Child And Grandparent Relationship After Divorce?

TGB family and divorce lawyer Jane Miller on the legal rights of a child’s extended family after divorce.

TGB family and divorce lawyer Jane Miller on the legal rights of a child’s extended family after divorce.

It is commonly understood that a divorce or relationship breakdown has a significant impact upon a child’s relationship with his or her parents, but what about the child’s relationship with extended family, such as the relationship with their grandparents?

A family breakup causes significant changes in a child’s life, and the quality and frequency of time the child spends with his or her grandparents is likely to be affected.  In some cases, grandparents have a greater role in a grandchild’s life after divorce. For example, the primary carer of the child might need a greater level of support and assistance from grandparents in order to meet the challenges of being a single parent. In other cases, the child might have a reduced opportunity to spend quality time with grandparents if the divorce has been acrimonious or forced a move to another state or region.

How do the children of divorcing parents feel about this? And the grandparents, how do they feel about their changing roles? Often the children and the grandchildren are the silent voices in a marriage breakdown. This issue was addressed in a recent article published by the Australian Institute of Family Studies, “Parental Separation and Grandchildren” by Julie Deblaquiere, Lawrie Maloney and Ruth Weston.

The Family Law Act says, “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 (such as grandparents and other relatives),” except where it would be contrary to the child’s best interests.

This means that grandparents often have the option to seek legal advice and take action to address their changing relationship with grandchildren in light of a divorce.

It can also be of great assistance for grandparents to seek the services of a counsellor or psychologist to develop their skills to support their grandchild through the challenges of a family breakup.  When receiving appropriate advice, the grandparent/grandchild relationship can be well managed to ensure the child is lovingly nurtured at a difficult time.

TGB is South Australia’s largest family law firm. For further information or assistance with your legal matter contact your nearest TGB office.