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Grandparents have to apply for custody and access rights

As a grandparent, you naturally feel a close connection with your grandchildren and you may even expect to have some rights as a blood-related family member. However, you need to know that custody and access rights do not go to grandparents automatically when there is a divorce. You must apply for them.

These laws are laid out in the Divorce Act and the Children's Law Reform Act. Access or custody rights just go to the parents and that's it.

Now, you can apply on the grounds that you are an important part of the child's life and that it would be in his or her best interests for you to have some custody and access rights. This is actually true for any person who can make this claim, including grandparents. If approved, your rights can then be altered to reflect this.

So, what is the court going to consider when deciding if you should have a right to be in the child's life? Among other things, it will look at:

  • The emotional ties you have with the child, including the love and affection between you.
  • What preferences the child may have regarding you.
  • Your willingness and ability to help the child grow and develop, perhaps by offering both education and guidance.

Essentially, the court is just trying to decide if the child will have a fuller, happier life if you are granted these rights. During this process, it's very important not only to know what rights you have, but also to understand all of the necessary legal steps in the application process in Ontario.

Source:, "Grandparents' visitation and custody rights," accessed Oct. 22, 2015

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