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Grandparents' rights after divorce may finally change in Ontario

When men and women with children separate, their concerns for their families are often restricted to themselves and their children. However, extended family can sometimes be just as important, though they are often left out of considerations. A group of Ontario grandparents is seeking to change the opportunities for their inclusion in divorce and custody proceedings.

A group calling itself Alienated Grandparents Anonymous has been lobbying Queen's Park since 2005 to amend the province's laws concerning grandparents' rights. They are seeking easier access to grandchildren, and the right to be considered for custody. An NDP member of the Legislature has tabled a private member's bill aimed at changing the Children's Law Reform Act to benefit grandparents. This will be the seventh such bill put forward, and none have previously been passed.

It is estimated that 75,000 grandparents in this province have been denied access to their grandchildren. Members of the group believe that grandparents can provide comfort and stability for children who are experiencing the divorce of their parents. Denying them access hurts not only themselves but the children as well. As of now, special considerations are not given to grandparents in custody cases, even if the parents have given up their rights.

When a divorce becomes bitter, anything can be used as a pawn in the battle against a former spouse. Unfortunately, those pawns are often unwitting and innocent participants, such as children and grandparents. Men and women seeking to divorce in Ontario should consider the well-being of their entire family when making arrangements for their separation. A family law attorney may be able to help ensure a stable future for all.

Source: ourlondon.ca, "Grandparents push for access in custody cases", Keith Leslie, Nov. 6, 2016

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