Grandparents rights in Australia: What you need to know

Family dynamics are complex. Whenever a family goes through a separation or divorce, it’s not only the relationship between a child and their parents that is affected. Separation can also impact the relationship a child has with other important people in their lives – including grandparents.

Grandparents often play a significant role in a child’s life. That’s why it’s important to know what rights you have as a grandparent under the Family Law Act and how you can re-establish contact and communication with your grandchildren if you find yourself estranged because of divorce or separation.

Keep reading to learn about grandparents’ rights in Australia to uncover the nuances of this specific area of family law.

Grandparents’ rights in Australia under the law

The Family Law Act (the Act) acknowledges that kids have a right to maintain connections with significant people in their lives, including grandparents.

In fact, the Act expressly requires the Court to consider the nature of a child’s relationship with their grandparents as part of determining what’s in their best interests. This means that as a grandparent, you can apply for parenting orders concerning your grandchild. 

Grandparents spending time with grandkids understanding their grandparents rights in Australia

When can you apply?

There are several scenarios where you may apply for Court orders in relation to your grandchild. Some of these might be if:

  • A parent is stopping the child from spending time with you or talking to you
  • A parent can’t take care of your grandchild
  • Your grandchild is at risk of harm in a parent’s care

Depending on the situation, the Court might order that the child live with you or spend quality time with you. It’s all about ensuring the child’s best interests.

Related: Fathers’ rights in Australia


The best interests of the child

When deciding what’s best for the child, the Court looks at several factors, including:

  • The benefits of the child having a meaningful relationship with both parents.
  • Protecting the child from physical or psychological harm. 
  • The child’s views and level of maturity.
  • The nature of the child’s relationships.
  • The likely effect of any changes in the child’s circumstances.
  • The capacity of the parents and other people involved to meet the child’s needs.


What are parenting orders?

A parenting order is an order made by the Court that outlines the parenting arrangements for the child. Even though they might be called ‘parenting’ orders, they can also deal with grandparents’ rights in Australia and the time a child spends with their grandparents. They can cover where a child lives, how much time they spend with parents and grandparents, decision-making, travel plans, holidays and special occasions, and more. 

Once the Court makes a parenting order, it’s binding on all the parties. And there can be serious consequences for non-compliance.


Mediation matters

Before heading into Court for a parenting order, there’s a step called family dispute resolution or mediation. This is the chance for parties to reach an agreement outside the courtroom, assuming it is safe to do so. 

If mediation works out, a parenting order can be made by consent, and you can avoid the formal court process. Generally, the Court requires mediation and sees formal proceedings as a last resort. But there are special circumstances where parties can apply for an exemption from mediation, such as cases of particular urgency.


Seek professional advice 

As a grandparent, the law recognises your right to have a relationship with your grandchildren. But every situation is unique. So, it’s wise to get legal advice about your rights under the Act before you make any decisions. 

If you’d like some guidance or support, get in touch with our team at Australian Family Lawyers. We’ll use our resources and knowledge to help you achieve the best outcome for your situation. 

Need professional support and advice on your grandparents rights in Australia? Request a call back from our supportive team by filling out the form below.

Do you have a question about family law or relationship law?

Call now 03 9088 3184

If you would prefer an Australian Family Lawyers team member to contact you, complete the form below.