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Do Grandparents Get Visitation Rights?

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Questions about grandparents’ rights can surface in various situations involving families that have divorced and those that haven’t. But the questions usually have the same issue at heart: What rights do grandparents have in Saskatchewan? Here’s what you need to know.

Do Grandparents Have Visitation Rights in Saskatchewan?

There are several ways in which grandparents may struggle to have visitation with their grandchildren. The grandchildren’s parents may be divorced, and the custodial parent refuses to let the former in-laws visit. Or the grandchildren’s parents may still be married but in agreement that one or both sets of grandparents shouldn’t have access to the grandchildren. No matter the specific circumstances, this situation can cause stress and grief for grandparents who want to be part of their grandchildren’s lives.

There was a time when grandparents had no legal say in the matter in Canada, but that’s slowly been changing. With any custody or visitation agreement, the court looks first and foremost at what’s in the best interests of the child, followed by what’s in the parents’ and grandparents’ best interests. Because grandparents often supply unconditional love in a manner different than parents, they may be deemed essential to the child’s upbringing, depending on the circumstances.

The court looks at the following when determining whether grandparents should have visitation.

  • The relationship between the grandparent and the grandchild.
  • The grandchild’s wishes.
  • The reasons given by the parents as to why they want to restrict grandparent visitation.

What Could Cause Visitation Rights for Grandparents to be Refused?

It can be heartbreaking, but it does happen–the courts, at times, will refuse to allow grandparents to have visitation rights. There are several reasons the courts could refuse access to grandchildren, including:

  • The grandparents have been documented as being verbally or physically abusive toward their grandchildren.
  • The grandparents could be a negative influence on grandchildren, such as in the cases where one or both grandparents suffer from an addiction.
  • The grandparents have a history of trying to interfere or override the parents’ authority over the children.
  • The children don’t want to spend time with their grandparents
  • A legal battle between the parents and grandparents has occurred or is occurring, even if it’s not directly related to the grandchildren.

What Can I Do if One or Both Parents Try to Prevent Me from Having Visitation with My Grandchildren?

We know that this situation can cause considerable stress and anguish for you. That’s why it’s wise to work with a family law firm that also handles mediation in situations like these. Our approach to these cases is to calmly, compassionately draw each side out in terms of their concerns and hopes for outcomes.

In mediation, some of the pressure that comes with going to court is reduced. In the courtroom, each side with their lawyer tends to take a stance that their approach is the right one, and the other side is wrong. That can lead to hard feelings and refusal to consider collaboratively finding a solution.

In contrast, the mediator doesn’t represent one side or the other but acts as an impartial advisor whose role involves ensuring both sides get to speak and each side hears what the other has to say. The focus isn’t on who is right or wrong but on finding a solution that everyone can live with and that fits the child’s best interests.

What Are the Advantages of Seeking out Mediation to Determine Grandparent Visitation Rights?

There are many. As noted above, the mediation process is much more holistic than a court procedure is, and it gives everyone involved a chance to state their concerns and know they’ll be heard. It can be challenging for people involved in a conflict over something as important as access to grandchildren to believe there’s a way to resolve the situation without even more trauma. Still, mediation can and does help people do just that.

Here are some of the other benefits:

  • Pace. Mediation can often resolve a conflict more quickly than a court case, especially if the courts are full and there’s a long wait to set a court date.
  • Cost. The cost of resolving the conflict can be lower due to less time lawyers spend preparing court cases and other related costs.
  • Privacy. Many conflict resolutions accomplished through mediation are not matters of the public record. This is in contrast to court cases, which are.
  • Improvements in varied outcomes. Mediation may not finally bring an end to the conflict; it can also have a variety of psychological benefits as well. People tend to feel better about resolutions in which they were allowed to have input and feel they were listened to. What’s more, there have been many cases where mediation allowed the parties involved to feel more committed to the resolution, meaning there were fewer conflicts in the future. Often, people find they’re able to have a more respectful and worthwhile relationship afterward–and that, in turn, benefits the children involved.

If you’re involved in a situation involving grandchildren and visitation that’s becoming contentious, it might be time to seek a different approach from traditional legal cases.

What Should I Do if I Want to Pursue Visitation with My Grandchildren?

Call Panko Collaborative Law & Mediation at 306-518-8107 for a consultation. We understand how vital the grandparent-grandchild relationship is and why you want to have regular time with them. Our focus is on collaborative discussions and planning to reach a consensus in a calm, low-stress way.

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