The decision to pursue a divorce can have long reaching consequences where the expected result isn’t immediately clear. If a family with children is divided by divorce, the link between the grandparents and the children becomes less certain and their rights to visit the children will need to be clearly stated in the final agreement.
In Ontario, grandparents cannot automatically assume that they will be granted visitation rights.
For most divorces that end under amicable terms, the grandparents will have the opportunity to see their grandchildren on occasion. However, even if the grandparents have a strong relationship with the grandchildren, it can be the case that a sour relationship with the children’s parents means that visitation is prevented.
Since parents have a more immediate role in a child’s life, there are few legal options for a grandparent who is being “blocked” from seeing their grandchildren.
A grandparent may also consider applying for custody of a child, depending on the circumstances. The court is under no obligation to grant this request, but ultimately the best interests of the child will be taken into consideration. Unless there are exceptional circumstances, courts will often favour a parent as being the one who is most capable of being responsible for a child’s upbringing.
Having said that, the Courts are now inclined to grant access orders to grandparents that are being refused access without a legal basis.
For more practical information on what a grandparent may expect if their grandchildren are involved in a divorce custody case, or to talk with a legal professional about how to deal with an ongoing situation, consult with Epstein & Associates.