Introduction

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In many families, grandparents are an important part of their grandchildren’s lives. Sometimes, though, grandparents lose contact with their grandchildren because of something going on in the family, like a separation, divorce, or remarriage.

There is no legal requirement for a grandparent to have contact with their grandchildren. It is usually up to the parents to allow visits and communication between their children and the grandparents, or any other extended family member. In some situations, grandparents may need legal help to be able to visit with or talk to their grandchildren, if the parents are not allowing this to happen.

The information in this section is for grandparents who want to know how they may be able to reconnect or maintain contact with their grandchildren. This section is also for grandparents who may be making an application to the court for contact time or interaction with, or custody of, their grandchildren.

This section contains information about different ways of communicating, or negotiating, that may help you to come to an agreement without going to court. There is also information about how to find a lawyer and get legal advice, information about custody, contact time and interaction, and child support, and contact information for services that might be helpful to you.

If you have lost contact with your grandchildren, or are thinking of applying to the court for custody of, or contact with, your grandchildren, it is very important that you speak with a lawyer for advice. Only a lawyer can tell you what your rights are, what to expect from the court process, or what you should or shouldn’t do in your situation.

Services

There are services offered in several of the courts in Nova Scotia that can assist grandparents in getting legal advice, or making a court application. These services differ from court to court, so check with the court where you are making your application (usually where your grandchildren live) to find out what is available there.

Learn more about these services here: intake, court-based ADR ('conciliation'), mediation, settlement conferences, assessments, collaborative family law, Parent Information Program, supervised access/exchange, and the Family Law Information Program.

Child Support

Anyone who has custody of a child can make an application to the court for child support. Child support is the money paid by a parent to another ‘parent’ to contribute to the cost of bringing up their children, including the children’s living expenses. A ‘parent’ can include a grandparent who has custody of their grandchildren through a court order. Learn more about child support here.

Getting Legal Advice & Finding a Lawyer

If you are trying to reconnect with your grandchildren, or are involved with, or going to be involved with, the court, it is always a good idea to speak with a lawyer. Only a lawyer can give you legal advice about your situation. Court staff and other legal information providers cannot give you legal advice. Court staff are not allowed to recommend or advertise any paid services, so they cannot give you a list of private lawyers. Learn more about getting legal advice and finding a lawyer here.

Importance of Extended Family

When parents separate children often need their extended families more than ever. The grandparents and the extended families on both sides of the family can be a resource for the parents and the children. Sometimes, because of strong feelings about a former partner, parents are tempted to exclude the former ‘in-laws’ from their lives and the lives of their children. Sometimes the extended family abandons a parent and their children or takes sides. Learn more about the importance of extended family here.

Practising Good Communication

Good communication is important in all relationships. Children benefit from a respectful and cooperative relationship between all parties involved in their upbringing, including their parents, grandparents, and other extended family members. It is important to have effective communication skills when dealing with the parties involved in the raising of a child. Learn more about practising good communication here.

Adoption

In some uncommon situations, a grandparent may want to adopt their grandchild. This may occur, for example, if the children have been permanently removed from the care of their parents through a child protection proceeding, and have been placed with their grandparents. Adoptions are complicated legal proceedings with serious and permanent consequences. You should speak with a lawyer for advice if you are considering adopting a child, even if it is your grandchild. Learn more about adoption here.

Community Agencies & Resources

For a listing of agencies and services available in Nova Scotia, please go to Community Agencies & Resources.