Grandparents usually get access with their grandchildren through one or both of the parents without a court order.
If you need to make a court application, then it is important to know the legal words that are used to describe different parenting arrangements or contact with grandchildren.
‘Access’ is a legal term that means visits with the child or children. In some situations, though, grandparents may not get visits with their grandchildren, if the parents are not allowing visits to take place. This sometimes happens when the parents are no longer together, and are disagreeing about the parenting arrangements for their children.
'Custody' is a legal term that describes where a child lives, who makes decisions about raising the child, and how these decisions are made. In some situations, grandparents may want to apply for custody of their grandchildren. This may happen in situations where there are concerns around the safety or well-being of the children while they are living with their parents. Sometimes, grandparents will ask for custody of their grandchildren if the Department of Community Services (Child Protection Workers) have become involved with the family. In some cases, Child Protection may place the children with their grandparents, if it is not safe for the children to stay with their parents, or there is a substantial risk of harm to the grandchildren.
The Maintenance and Custody Act, sometimes called the ‘MCA,’ is the law used in Nova Scotia to make applications to the court dealing with issues like child custody or access, or child support, when there is no divorce proceeding. This means that when a grandparent makes an application in regards to their grandchildren, this is usually the law that they would use.