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Alienated grandparents have rights under Ontario family law

It is said that about 75,000 grandparents in Ontario have no or limited access to their grandchildren. A bill was recently passed in the province that modifies existing family law to allow grandparents to apply for custody or access to grandchildren. The court will expect the applying grandparents to prove that such access will be in the children's best interests.

Parental alienation is not uncommon to families after a divorce or the death of one parent. In many cases, the animosity and need for revenge make custodial parents determined to break all ties with former spouses and their families. Statistics Canada show that approximately 1.2 million divorced or separated Canadian parents across the country have children age 18 years or younger. The Canadian Grandparents Rights Association says regaining access can be a lengthy struggle.

The Association labels this type of alienation as grandparent or elder abuse. Studies determined that children who have loving relationships or bonds with grandparents are better adjusted to life's ups and downs than alienated children. They suffer fewer emotional and behavioural problems and find it easier to cope with tough times such as breakups with friends or family,

In today's lifestyle in which most parents work, the support and love of grandparents can benefit children and their parents. However, it is acknowledged that contact with grandparents is not always in the best interests of grandchildren. A consultation with an experienced Ontario family law lawyer may be the appropriate way to learn the next steps in a quest to gain access to alienated grandchildren.

Source:, "Keeping grandparents in the family", Jennifer Thuncher, July 19, 2017

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