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Ontario grandparents have rights after a divorce

A popular saying tells parents everywhere that it takes a village to raise a child. While the literal meaning may no longer hold true in modern society, certainly parents are not the only ones who can have a nurturing relationship with a child. As people live longer, and as more families include two working parents, grandparents often play an important role in raising children. Unfortunately, many grandparents are left out of the plans after a divorce in Ontario, though that may soon change.

When a divorce goes badly, and a family falls apart, grandparents are frequently alienated from their grandchildren. The rate of incidence is so high that support groups exist across North America to help grandparents cope with the stress. An estimated 75,000 grandparents are excluded from their grandchildren's lives in Ontario alone.

In the fall of 2016, an NDP MPP reintroduced Bill 34 in the Ontario legislature. The proposed law sought to include grandparents in the Children's Law Reform Act, and provide rights to custody and access to grandchildren after a divorce. The bill later passed into law, though there has yet to be a test in court. However, it was a step in the right direction, and could provide comfort to many grandparents caught in an unfortunate situation.

The definition of "family" has evolved over time, and family law has been struggling to keep up. This new law, should it hold up to scrutiny in court, may solve a serious problem affecting many families in Ontario. If any grandparent feels he or she has been unfairly excluded from the life of a grandchild after the parents' divorce, it may be worth speaking with a lawyer for advice.

Source: insidehalton.com, "Burlington Alienated Grandparents Anonymous support group gaining members", Kathy Yanchus, April 12, 2017

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