Grandparents’ Rights in B.C.

Jagriti Jaswal- Grandparents’ Rights, Published April 13, 2024

Advocating for Grandparents’ rights: Navigating Family Law in British Columbia. Grandparents play an essential role in the lives of grandchildren, providing love, support, and guidance. A bond woven with love, laughter and timeless memories. However, it is essential to clarify that grandparents do not inherently possess such legal rights. Instead there are legal avenues available for grandparents to pursue if they wish to spend time with their grandchildren but are unable to do so. These legal channels are based on the ”best interest of the children” and aim to facilitate meaningful relationships between grandparents and grandchildren when  deemed appropriate and beneficial.

Grandparents' Rights.

There are legal considerations regarding grandparents’ rights. Let’s delve into these aspects to gain a better understanding.

  1. Contact time for Grandparents: In British Columbia, grandparents can seek contact time with their grandchildren under certain circumstances. The Family Law Act Division 4 section 58 and section 59 deals with the contact with the child. The Family Law Act  recognizes the importance of maintaining relationships between grandchildren and their grandparents, especially when it is in the best interests of the child.
  1. Conditions for Seeking Contact Time: Grandparents can seek contact time if they can demonstrate in court that it is in the best interests of the child. Factors considered include the nature of the relationship between the grandparent and the child, and the child’s views and preferences (depending on their age and maturity). It is important to note each case is unique, and the court assesses these conditions and considerations on a  case -by-case basis to determine what is in the best interests of the child.
  1. Grandparents’ Rights in Guardianship: While grandparents do not have automatic rights to guardianship of their grandchildren, they can apply for such rights under certain circumstances. This may occur if the child’s parents are unable or unwilling to care for the child, or if there are concerns about the child’s safety and well-being in the care of the parents.
  1. Legal Process for Grandparents’ Rights: Grandparents seeking guardianship or contact time must typically go through the court system. This involves filing an application with the court, attending hearings, and providing evidence to support their case. It is essential to work with a family law lawyer who can guide grandparents through the legal process and advocate for their rights effectively.
  1. Best Interests of the Child Standard: In all matters concerning grandparents’ parenting time and rights, the court considers the best interests of the child as the paramount consideration. Best interests include the factors outlined in section 37 of the Family Law Act of British Columbia:

(1)In making an agreement or order under this Part respecting guardianship, parenting arrangements or contact with a child, the parties and the court must consider the best interests of the child only.

(2)To determine what is in the best interests of a child, all of the child’s needs and circumstances must be considered, including the following:

(a)the child’s health and emotional well-being;

(b)the child’s views, unless it would be inappropriate to consider them;

(c)the nature and strength of the relationships between the child and significant persons in the child’s life;

(d)the history of the child’s care;

(e)the child’s need for stability, given the child’s age and stage of development;

(f)the ability of each person who is a guardian or seeks guardianship of the child, or who has or seeks parental responsibilities, parenting time or contact with the child, to exercise the person’s responsibilities;

(g)the impact of any family violence on the child’s safety, security or well-being, whether the family violence is directed toward the child or another family member;

(h)whether the actions of a person responsible for family violence indicate that the person may be impaired in the person’s ability to care for the child and meet the child’s needs;

(i)the appropriateness of an arrangement that would require the child’s guardians to cooperate on issues affecting the child, including whether requiring cooperation would increase any risks to the safety, security or well-being of the child or other family members;

(j)any civil or criminal proceeding relevant to the child’s safety, security or well-being.

(3)an agreement or order is not in the best interests of a child unless it protects, to the greatest extent possible, the child’s physical, psychological and emotional safety, security and well-being.

This standard ensures that decisions prioritize the child’s safety, well-being, and emotional needs above all else. 

Grandparents do not automatically have rights to their grandchildren, but they can seek those rights under specific circumstances. In British Columbia, that process is governed by the Family Law Act and is based on the best interests of the child. Navigating these legal complexities often requires the expertise of a family law professional to ensure the best outcome for all parties involved.

Disclaimer – By contacting Portside Law Corporation through email, phone or direct message does not establish an attorney-client relationship. An attorney-client relationship is formed once both parties agree in writing to such a relationship. The information found in this document is of general nature and is not intended to be legal advice. Please contact our office to speak further about any particular legal question you may have.