The Rights Of Grandparents In Divorce

Today, more than any previous generation, grandparents are playing a more active role in the lives of their grandchildren. Rachael Scharrer, founder of online resource dedicates this post to her mother, the grandmother of children of divorce, Nanna. Nanna is concerned for other grandparents who aren’t able to facilitate a loving relationship with their grandchildren of divorce. Rachael shares her story and suggestion to other grandparents:

While my children regularly see and talk with their maternal grandparents, Nanna sympathises with so many grandparents who do not know their rights when there is divorce in the family. In some situations, grandparents become alienated.

My automatic response to Nanna assumed she understood the intricacies of family law (which she doesn’t), despite emotionally supporting me throughout a protracted divorce. Nanna can’t imagine not having time with the grandchildren regardless of which side of the divorce she sat on. In the more fractious divorces, relations with the spend-time-with family are limited to not existent. For some, the time with the spends-time-with parent is so limited that it isn’t possible to have quality time and see the extended family.

However, court orders surrounding divorce and parenting only apply to the named persons. Only in extenuating circumstances are the grandparents named in the order. As such, it is up to each parent to facilitate a loving and considered relationship between the child and all family members.

Regardless of whether you are a grandparent, aunt or uncle, you need to create the relationship you want with the children of the divorce. You could try to:

  1. Call the grandchildren, ask their primary parent how you can help, run chore or offer to pay a bill or extra-curricular
  2. Refrain from talking about the divorce or offer unsolicited advice in the presence of the other parent
  3. Send cards, letters and gifts to your grandchild. If gifts aren’t accepted, create a bank account for your grandchild and deposit funds for their future use
  4. Offer to have a regular afternoon or help with an activity with the grandchild
  5. Get involved in Saturday sport - take the grandchild or attend as a supporter
  6. Send the grandchild photos of their cousins
  7. Invite the children or attend their cousin’s birthday celebrations
  8. Invite the grandchildren to family outings

Grandparents can become the primary carer of their grandchildren by:

  1. A parenting order made by the Family Court or Federal Circuit Court
  2. An application by a state or territory government to the Children’s Court or Family Court for care and protection orders that results in a court order that the child lives with their grandparent
  3. An informal arrangement that may or may not have the agreement of the parents and may or may not involve the state child protection authorities

Grandparents are allowed to agitate at court if they feel overlooked, intentionally alienated or previously played a significant role in the grandchildren’s lives. Documenting your interactions, contact and time with the grandchildren is a great place to start. Should you have ongoing concerns, contact your family lawyer for individualised advice.


This is general advice only and is not provided as legal advice. If you have a legal issue, you should contact a lawyer and/or accountant before making a decision about what to do or applying to the Court. cannot provide legal advice. If you have an emergency situation, please contact Emergency '000'. © Divorce Pty Ltd