Section 65C(ba) of the Family Law Act 1975 (Cth) (“the Act”) provides that a grandparent is able to apply for a parenting order. A grandparent is able to make application to the Federal Circuit Court of Australia for their grandchildren to live with, spend time with and/or communicate with them if it is in the children’s best interests.
Section 60B(2)(b) of the Act provides that “children have the right to spend time on a regular basis with, and communicate on a regular basis with, both their parents and other people significant to their care, welfare and development (such as grandparents and other relatives)”. This means that grandparents do not have an automatic right to see their grandchildren but grandchildren do have a right to see their grandparents.
When looking at an application made to the Court by a grandparent, the Court will consider what are commonly referred to as section 60CC factors. These factors are outlined as primary considerations and additional considerations in determining what is in the children’s best interests at section 60CC of the Act.
One additional consideration to consider when determining what is in the children’s best interests is that provided for in section 60CC(3)(b) of the Act as follows:
“(b) the nature of the relationship of the child with:
(i) each of the child’s parents; and
(ii) other persons (including any grandparent or other relative of the child)”.
This shows that the relationship between the grandchildren and their grandparents (provided it is in the children’s best interest) will be considered in determining whether an order should be made for the grandparents to spend time with the grandchildren and be able to communicate with the grandchildren.
If a grandparent was to make an application to the Court, a family consultant would be appointed by the Court and an appointment for the parents, the grandparents and the grandchildren would likely be ordered at the first court hearing. The family consultant would take into account the opinion of the grandchildren as to whether they wish to spend time with the grandparents and put this to the Court in a report.
In summary, the Court does value to role of grandparents in the lives of children and will consider what is in the children’s best interests when deciding whether to make a parenting order for their grandchildren to live with, spend time with and/or communicate with them.