Introduction

 
Parents are generally responsible for making decisions about their children. Grandparents and other relatives who want to spend time with a child can usually make arrangements with the child’s parents. Sometimes, however, the people involved disagree about the amount, or type, of access that grandparents or other extended family members should have, or even if that access should take place at all.
 
Disagreements may be the result of difficult family relationships such as parents wishing to separate, divorce or live apart.

What this Guide Offers

This guide is for grandparents who want access to their grandchildren, but for one reason or another, are not being permitted that access. The guide will help grandparents learn about their legal rights, the resources available to them and the process of applying to court to gain access to a child. The guide may also assist other extended family members or others who want to apply for access to a child.
 
Throughout this guide are tips and observations contained in these ‘boxes’ from grandparents who have gone through the process of seeking access to their grandchildren. Hopefully, their words will bring other grandparents comfort, hope and some idea of what to expect if they, too, decide to seek access through the legal system.
 
This guide only applies to access applications under The Child and Family Services Act (provincial legislation). For a Manitoba court to hear a grandparent’s application for access to a grandchild, the child must live in Manitoba.

What this guide does Not offer

This guide will not help grandparents seeking access to a child under the Divorce Act.

What is Meant by Access

There are many kinds of access grandparents may seek, including the right to:
    • visit with the child (ex: weekly visits)
    • communicate in other ways (ex: letters, telephone, e-mail)
    • attend and receive information about events (ex: soccer team schedule)
    • send gifts
    • send or receive photos or information (and receive acknowledgement that the child received the photos/information)
“Take whatever access the court will grant you or the parent will agree to and build from there. Any contact is good contact.”