Do Grandparents have Rights to Their Grandchildren under Family Law?

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Marg O

9 April 2014
My son and daughter-in-law are getting a divorce. I’m interested in keeping an eye on the welfare and development of my grandchildren. Do grandparents have any legal rights relating to their grandchildren? I would like to know whether I have any grandparents rights. Where can I go to for more family law advice?

Victoria S

Well-Known Member
9 April 2014
The Family Law Act recognises the importance of grandchildren having a relationship with their grandparents and children have the right to know and be cared for by both parents and other people significant to their care, welfare and development, such as grandparents. However, grandparents do not have an automatic right to spend time or have contact with their grandchildren.

If you are unable to come to an agreement with the parents about how and when your grandchildren see or have contact with you, then you may apply to the family court for parenting orders for your grandchildren (where its considered to be in the child’s best interests).
The orders will set out where the child will live, who will have contact with the child and parental responsibilities such as education, health care and discipline.

Going to court should be the last resort and the Family Law Act requires the parties to try family dispute resolution (mediation or conciliation) first. If you come to an agreement about the time you are to spend with your grandchild through mediation, it can be written up in a Parenting Plan or Consent Orders, which can be lodged with the court. Family Relationship Centres provide up to three hours of free joint dispute resolution sessions.

If your son or his partner is refusing to let you see your grandchild or you’re concerned about your grandchildren's safety, then it would be wise to get legal advice about your particular situation and what you can do.

You can get free legal advice from your closest Legal Aid office and LawAccess NSW also provides free telephone legal information, advice and referrals to other legal services that can help you (their number is 1300 888 529).

The Older Persons’ Legal Service gives free legal advice to older people on different areas of law. Council on the Ageing NSW has a grandparenting site that you might also find useful.

For more information about the family law courts, processes and forms, check out