The question of whether grandparents have visitation rights in British Columbia is a complex one, as it depends on a number of factors. Under the Family Law Act, parental authority is vested in the parents of a child unless a court orders otherwise. This means that unless a court has ordered otherwise, parents have the right to make decisions about their child’s upbringing, including decisions about who the child spends time with.
However, the Act also recognizes the importance of grandparents in a child’s life and provides that grandparents may apply to the court for an order granting them access to the child. There is no guarantee that a court will grant such an order, however, as the court must consider a number of factors, including the child’s best interests.
That said, let’s delve a little deeper into a grandparent’s right to visit their children, talking about the factors that may affect it and more:
What Factors Can Affect Grandparent Access?
In BC, the law provides that grandparents may have access to their grandchildren if it is in the best interests of the child. The court will consider a number of factors in determining whether or not to grant grandparents access, including:
- The child’s wishes, if they are old enough to express them
- The child’s relationship with the grandparents
- The child’s need for continuity and stability in their relationships
- The impact of access on the child’s physical and emotional well-being
- The ability of the grandparents to provide a safe and nurturing environment for the child
- Any history of family violence
- Any substance abuse issues on the part of the grandparents
- The proximity of the grandparents’ home to the child’s home
- The ability of the grandparents to meet the child’s needs
- The child’s age and stage of development
- The nature of the child’s relationship with their parents
The court will also consider any other factors it deems relevant in determining what is in the best interests of the child.
What about Parental Autonomy and Pro-contact Approaches?
When it comes to the question of how much contact should be maintained between children and their non-custodial parents, there are two main approaches: parental autonomy and pro-contact. In British Columbia, the law generally favours the latter approach, as it is believed to be in the best interests of the child.
The parental autonomy approach is based on the idea that the custodial parent should have the final say in how much contact the child has with the non-custodial parent. This approach is typically taken in cases where there is a conflict between the parents, and the custodial parent does not want the child to have contact with the other parent.
The pro-contact approach, on the other hand, is based on the idea that it is generally in the best interests of the child to have contact with both parents, even if there is a conflict between them. This approach is typically taken in cases where the parents are able to cooperate and communicate with each other.
In British Columbia, the law generally favours the pro-contact approach. This is because it is believed that children benefit from having a relationship with both parents. However, there are exceptions to this rule. For example, if there is a history of domestic violence, the court may order limited or no contact between the child and the abusive parent.
The decision of how much contact the child has with the non-custodial parent is ultimately up to the court. However, the court will take into account the wishes of both the child and the custodial parent. In cases where the parents cannot agree on a contact schedule, the court will make the decision based on what it believes is in the best interests of the child.
All in all, there is really one main factor that the court will consider whether to grant grandparents the right to visit a child: the child’s best interest. After all, the court wants the best for everyone, and if they believe that the child will do well with visits from their grandparents, then it is likely the grandparents will be granted the right. Otherwise, the court may not allow it.
Dreyer and Associates Lawyers LLP works hard to meet the best interests of families, dealing with wills and estates, family law, and more. If you are looking to learn more about grandparents’ rights in British Columbia, work with us today!