The truth is that the law doesn’t assume grandparents have the right to have a relationship with their grandchildren, nor does it assume grandchildren have that same right. The Family Law Act in Alberta does not protect grandparents’ rights to see their grandchildren. It does give grandparents options to be able to see their grandchildren when the kids’ parents don’t want that to happen — namely, grandparents can apply to the court for a contact order.
Under the act, grandparents can also apply for guardianship of their grandchildren or permission to care for them — also known as kinship care. The Alberta Child, Youth and Family Enhancement Act also allows grandparents to apply for private guardianship of their grandchildren if their grandchildren are in the care of children’s services, or are subject to temporary or permanent guardianship orders or agreements. In order not to lose sight of their grandchildren, grandparents need to act as quickly as possible by talking with their own children in the event of a divorce or separation and by rebuilding relationships with the grandchildren.
If that isn’t possible, speaking with a lawyer about how to proceed may be most beneficial. How much time grandparents spend with their grandchildren might be fuelled by what court orders already exist. There are various issues that may affect their visitation time.
A lawyer with experience in Alberta family law may be able to provide some pertinent information to grandparents trying to maintain relationships with their grandchildren. A lawyer would be able to explain the various ways in which grandparents can accomplish this. He or she may also be able to give some further clarification to the different orders and which may be best for their particular situation.