The Alberta Family Law Act (“the Act”) does not specifically provide for grandparent rights. The Act does not assume that grandchildren have a right to a relationship with their grandparents and the Act does not assume that grandparents have a right to a relationship with their grandchildren.
However, there are options for grandparents when guardians and grandparents cannot agree on contact provisions. Grandparents can apply to the Court without first seeking permission of the Court if the parents are the guardians of the children, the guardians are living separate and apart, and the grandparents contact with the children has been interrupted by the separation.
Grandparents can obtain a Contact Order from the Court if they are able to show that having contact with their grandchildren will be in the best interest of the children. The Courts look at a number of factors when deciding the best interests of the children:
-The benefit of the relationship with their grandparent;
-The grandchild's history of care, and the nature and strength of their existing relationship with his or her grandparents;
-Any history of family violence;
-The likelihood that the grandchild's physical, psychological or emotional health may be jeopardized if contact is denied; and
-The reasonableness of the guardians' refusal to allow contact.
A Contact Order is flexible and can provide for contact in a number of ways:
-In the form of visits; or
-In the form of oral or written communication; or
-In the form of any other method of communication.
Initiating a Court proceeding can be intimidating and there may be options available before a Court application is necessary. Contact Proskiw Law for a full breakdown of your options.