Custody of Children - Grandparent’s Rights vs Parent’s Legal Position?

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My parents have taken legal custody of my brother's and his soon to be ex-Wife's children. They've had legal custody of children for quite some time. Unaware of the legal side of things, my parents decided to move states (from QLD to ACT) to get give the children stability away from the situation that was happening. The children's mother still lives in Queensland (which is roughly 14 hours away) while my brother stays in ACT with my parents.

Over the past few months, their mother has attempted suicide 3 times (hospitalised 2 times, so the 3rd was never recorded) and the father has once. My mother, day in and day out has been helping her even though my mother is not her blood relative. Her blood relatives have decided that they'll give her no means to help, but they will jump on my mother and destroy everything that my mother has done for her. They're telling the children’s mother to seek legal advice so she can get her kids back.

My question is: What family law legal advice can she get for her grandparents rights or is she entitled to?



Well-Known Member
23 July 2014
Any person of relevance to the child's care, welfare and development is free to pursue parenting orders through the court, and this extends to grandparents. One of the most significant outcomes the grandparents' would likely be seeking from such orders would be sole parental responsibility, giving them full legal power to be the people solely responsible for long-term decisions about the child's care, including living arrangements.

The first step in this process is to attempt a family dispute resolution conference to try and reach an agreement with the mother outside of court, however in some cases, this is deemed inappropriate, such as where there had been family violence. I can't say with any certainty whether this step could be bypassed in your circumstances, but it's ordinarily up to the mediator to decide.

Beyond that, the grandparents or the mother can lodge an initiating application with the court for parenting orders. Parenting orders are detailed under Chapter VII of the Family Law Act 1975, but the most prominent thing to remember is that all orders will be made in the best interests of the child. The primary considerations as to what constitutes the child's best interests are the benefit to the child of having a meaningful relationship with each parent, and the need to protect the child from harm. The secondary considerations are various - from whether or not child support has been paid, to whether or not the parties can meet the child's needs. These factors are outlined in full in Section 60CC of the Family Law Act.

It's important to note that adults of any description have no automatic right to be a part of a child's life, including the parents. Parents only have responsibilities to children, not rights. If those responsibilities are not met, a court may not deem it in the child's best interests to live with the parents.

I hope this helps in some way.