Grandparents usually have contact 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.
Custody is a general term describing who has the responsibility for a child’s care, who makes the decisions about the child’s upbringing and development, and where the children will live. When a person has custody, this means they will make these decisions.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.
Parenting time is the time a child spends with a parent or guardian, under a court order or agreement.
Contact time is the time a child spends with someone other than a parent or guardian, under a court order or agreement. This can include a grandparent or other family member.
Interaction means direct or indirect association with a child, outside of parenting time or contact time. Interaction includes communications with a child other than ‘in person’ time – like, for example:
- phone calls, emails, or letters
- sending gifts or cards
- attending the child’s school activities or extracurricular activities
- receiving copies of report cards or school photos
- Skyping with the child
The Parenting and Support Act, sometimes called the ‘PSA,’ is the law used in Nova Scotia to make applications to the court dealing with issues like child custody or parenting arrangements, 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.