Can a Grandparent or Other Family Member Obtain Parenting Orders?

Grandparents rights

When a couple with children separate, it can become difficult for grandparents or other family members such as aunts and uncles to see much of the children.

It is important then to consider how grandparents or other family members may go about obtaining time with the children.

In this article, we consider the law in this are; what orders may be obtained in the family courts and what options there are available apart from taking a court action.

A grandparent may apply for a parenting order in relation to a child under the Family Law Act 1975 (Cth) (“FLA”) (sections 65C(ba) & 65C(c) FLA), including orders that the child live with the grandparent or that the grandparent share parental responsibilities (see section 64B FLA).

The Court must treat the best interests of the child as the paramount consideration when determining what orders to make.

Section 60B FLA recognises that children have a right to spend time on a regular basis with, and communicate on a regular basis with, both their parents and other people significant to their care, welfare and development. Those other significant people will include grandparents and may also include other family members.

Section 60CC sets out a number of factors to which the court must have regard including:

  • the nature of the relationship of the child with other persons (including any grandparent) (sub-section (3)(b));
  • the likely effect of any changes in the child’s circumstances, including the likely effect on the child of any separation from any other person (including any grandparent), with whom he or she has been living (sub-section (3)(d));
  • the capacity of any other person, including any grandparent to provide for the needs of the child, including emotional and intellectual needs (sub-section 3(f)).

If as a grandparent or other significant person, you seek orders from the family courts for the children to spend time with you, it will be important to consider what may be appropriate time for the particular circumstances. Whilst there may be some cases where a court will be willing to order even that children live with grandparents, in the more usual case, orders if made would more likely provide for some regular time over shorter periods, possibly including some overnight stay/s where it is appropriate.

If the parents are willing to attend a family dispute resolution meeting with you, then this can be a good way to try to reach an agreement without the need then to go to court. Unless the children are at risk in the care of their parent/s, you should anyway attempt a family dispute resolution meeting before starting any legal action seeking parenting orders.

Grandparent’s rights and other family member’s rights

Want to learn more about Grandparent’s rights or your rights as a family member? Contact our family lawyers at LGM Family Law and we will be happy to assist.