Elevate Family Law

Grandparents' Rights in Australia

"It takes a Village to raise a child…"

  • This old African proverb rings true today for many relatives of children that wish to continue a meaningful relationship. 
  • Grandparents are often one of the most hands-on individuals in a child’s life.
  • This is acknowledged and respected by the Family Law Act 1975, enabling grandparents the right to apply for a court order to maintain relationships with their grandchildren.

The law on grandparents rights in Australia

  • Under the Family Law Act 1975, if a grandparent seeks access or custody of their grandchild, they are entitled to make a  parenting order application.
  • The decision for the court to grant this is based on the best interests of the child. 
  • Further considerations are also taken into account ; for example:
    • What is child’s relationship with their grandparents ?
    • Assessment of the effects on a child of any separation from a grandparent.
    • Assessment of the capacity of the grandparent to provide for the needs of the child – this includes emotional and intellectual needs.  

Court Orders and Mediation

  • It is a requirement to attend mediation / family dispute resolution as a first step before applying for any court orders in grandparents rights matters.

  • In the event that a resolution is not arrived at through mediation, the  parties can then to apply to the Court.
  • In the event that the parent and grandparent can reach an agreement via mediation, a parenting order can be made by consent.
  • Once an agreement has been finalised, an application must be made to the court to approve the orders – and neither party needs to attend Court.

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Most frequent questions and answers

NSW law does not stipulate that grandparents have implicit rights to have a relationship with their grandchild. However, like any other person who has a vested concern in the child’s welfare and best interests , they can apply for a parenting order to seek and secure visitation rights.

The law does not generally give grandparents any automatic rights to see their grandchildren. So, in almost every case, parents can keep children away from grandparents if they so wish. The exceptions to this case are circumstances where the child’s wellbeing is being out at risk by the  parents.

The orders handed down will contain a range of consequences for non-compliance which can be of varying severity as assessed by the courts.