In Australian family law, grandparents do not have any specific rights in relation to the care, upbringing or custody of their grandchildren. Parents do not have automatic rights to look after their children either. Parents have responsibilities to their children, regarding their care, welfare and development.
The focus of parenting and custody matters is the children’s rights. Children have a right to see and spend time with extended family members, including grandparents. As people who are concerned for the care, welfare and development of their grandchildren, grandparents do have the right to apply for to the court for parenting orders.
Parenting orders can be made at any time, including before and after separation or divorce. These orders can cover a variety of issues like parental responsibility and who the child will live with, as well as how much time the child will spend with and how they will communicate with other people like grandparents. The best interests of the child are viewed as of paramount importance in family law proceedings.
Therefore, the child has the right to benefit from a relationship with their grandparents so long as it is in their best interests. When determining the outcome of a parenting order application involving grandparents, the court will look at several different factors to evaluate whether living with or spending time their grandparents is in the child’s best interests.
For example, the need to protect the child from suffering or being exposed to abuse, the kind of relationship the child already has with their parents and grandparents, the ability of the parents and grandparents to provide for the child’s emotional and intellectual needs, as well as the child’s own views depending on their age and maturity.
When the court is satisfied that living or spending time with their grandparents is in the child’s best interests, they will grant the parenting order.