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Grandparents' rights following a separation or divorce


Family law

The Civil Code of Québec provides that grandparents have access rights to their grandchildren. In fact, the law specifies that it is generally in the child’s best interest, as it is important for their development, that they have good relationships with grandparents.

This provision was adopted, considering that, during separations and family breakdowns, it is not uncommon for parental conflict to have a direct impact on their relationships with grandparents.

The Impact of a Separation or Divorce on Grandparents’ Relationship with Children

In certain cases, access rights will not be granted if serious reasons impede on the relationship. It is to note, however, that simple disputes amongst the parents and grandparents will not prevent the grandparents’ access rights to the children. However, more important issues that the children may witness or be caught up in, affecting their relationship with their parents may be considered by the Court as a serious issue, diminishing the grandparents’ rights. Likewise, if the grandparents have a bad influence on children or if they interfere with how to raise them, it may also limit their rights towards their grandchildren.

For example, the Superior Court granted access to the paternal grandparents in a case where the father had committed suicide and the mother refused contact with her ex’s family. The judge ruled that it was in the best interests of children to continue seeing their grandparents, especially due to the fact that they had always has a tight-knit relationship.

Conversely, in another case, the Superior Court refused to grant access temporarily to the maternal grandparents after the death of the mother in a car accident where a child was subsequently left disabled. The father suffered from a pathological mourning and depression. The Court judged that, should access rights be granted, they would have disturbed the family’s stability. In other words, the harm done to the father would have had a direct impact on the children.

Moreover, it should be noted that access rights granted to grandparents are less extensive than those accorded to parents during a divorce or separation.

Sonia Rotondo, Lawyer
Alepin Gauthier Avocats inc.

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