Gaining Access: Without Going To Court

Government Resources


Before taking the matter to court, grandparents should explore the services offered by Family Conciliation Services (a branch of Manitoba Families).
These are free services for families experiencing child custody and access issues arising from separation or divorce. Family Conciliation Services can work with the Court of Queen’s Bench and the Provincial Court to find options for grandparents seeking access.
There are Family Conciliation Services offices in Winnipeg, Brandon, Dauphin, Thompson, The Pas and Flin Flon. Phone numbers for these offices are listed under Resources.


In most cases, grandparents considering applying for access in court must first complete the program, For the Sake of the Children. This is an information program that educates participants about the legal and emotional aspects of separation, and the needs of children whose parents are separating. Attendance is mandatory for people who are contesting child custody, access or private guardianship.
It is a six-hour program divided into two three-hour seminars. To register, call the Family Conciliation Services office nearest you. See Resources for listings. An information session is also available to grandparents who attend For the Sake of the Children who wish to get more in depth information related to their issues.
Information and Referral – assessment of a person’s (grandparent’s) needs, to determine if this person will be best helped through Family Conciliation Services, lawyers, the court, or community agencies.
Grandparent Advisor – a Family Conciliation counsellor dedicated to helping grandparents find the best solutions and services when there is disagreement about access to grandchildren. The Grandparent Advisor also coordinates a Grandparent Support Group.
Mediation – an alternative to going to court. Mediators are available at Family Conciliation Services for grandparents, and other family members, who are willing to work together with a trained mediator to help them make decisions about their grandchildren’s needs.
Note: Agreements about access may be made in mediation. Once a case is before the court, the judge or master may refer it to mediation at any time during the proceedings.