Thomas and Trudy were a happy married elderly couple, with successful children and young grandchildren. Geographically the family, both immediate and extended, were in close proximity to each other which made for easy access socially throughout the year. Initially, Thomas and Trudy were relied upon for assisting their son Aaron and daughter in law Katie with caring for Michael, their young grandson. However, there was an incident one day wherein Katie felt that Trudy was circumventing her authority as a mother and asked Trudy to stop allowing Michael treats in between meals as it was not a habit that she wished Michael to engage in regularly. Trudy disagreed and said that “that’s what grandparents are for, to spoil their grandchildren” and ignored Katie’s request to stop providing Michael with treats. Katie brought her concerns to Aaron and they promptly arranged other child care for Michael which resulted in strained relations between the couples. Unfortunately, over the years Aaron and Katie continued to limit the time that Thomas and Trudy had with Michael. Whenever Thomas and his wife attempted to discuss their lack of contact with the child they were rebuffed as being ‘senile’. Then one year when they had planned to visit Michael for Christmas, Aaron called and told them they were not to see Michael anymore and were no longer welcome. They were crushed but what else could they do?
Thomas and Trudy’s situation is one many grandparents fear could happen to them. Unfortunately, this fear is not without justification as the Alberta Family Law Act does not specifically give the right to a grandparent to see or visit their grandchild. Thus the guardian/parent has tremendous discretion as to whether or not a grandparent can have visitation rights. However, there are always options.
As a grandparent, the best thing to try to do is to talk and attempt to work out any issue between yourselves and the parents/guardians. However, if this cannot be done there are a number of legal avenues and possibilities to explore including asking the court to assist them. For more information on these options please contact our office to arrange to meet with one of our helpful lawyers.