Why are grandparents not considered for child custody in Ontario?
The bonds that exist between many grandparents in Ontario and their grandchildren are special. However, under current legislation, the court can sever those ties in the event of the parents divorcing. The same can also happen if both parents die or relinquish their parental rights. A proposed bill to prevent this and have courts consider grandparents for child custody has been given a second reading in the legislature for the seventh time, and those fighting to get it passed hope there will not be an eighth time.
Statistics reportedly indicate that approximately 112,000 children have been alienated from about 75,000 Ontario grandparents. The member of the Legislative Assembly of Ontario who proposed the change to the Children’s Law Reform Act of the province said five other provinces had passed similar legislation. The battle of those attempting to get changes made is two-fold. Not only do courts deny grandparents the rights to take care of their grandchildren, but, also, the kids have no voice when the court awards child custody to complete strangers.
Those asking for change say all they want is for the courts to consider the merits of each case to determine whether the children can benefit from the stability, guidance and love that many grandparents are desperate to provide. Furthermore, the increased occurrences of maladjusted and delinquent adolescents reportedly often involve children who are denied the love and attention of parents or — in the absence of parents — grandparents. Support groups say denying children access to loving grandparents and other family members equals emotional and physical abuse.
Grandparents in Ontario who are concerned about the welfare of their grandchildren may want to consult with a skilled family law lawyer who is knowledgeable in the statutes related to child custody. After assessing the circumstances and the existing relationships between grandchildren and their grandparents, an experienced legal representative can explain the available options. He or she can then navigate the chosen legal procedures to protect those relationships.