New Ontario Law Expands Rights Of Grandparents at Handa Law
New Ontario Law Expands ...
Oct 04, 2019, Admin

New Ontario Law Expands Rights Of Grandparents
Legislation passed late last year will compel Ontario’s courts to take grandparents’ custody and visitation rights into consideration. Bill 34, introduced by NDP MPP Michael Mantha representing the Algoma-Manitoulin riding in northern Ontario, amends existing child custody laws which previously had not considered grandparents’ access.

If you have questions about the implications of the Bill 34, contact the Ontario family lawyers at Handa Law & Associate today.

In Ontario, advocacy groups estimate that around 75,000 grandparents are estranged from their grandchildren, and that around 112,000 grandchildren have lost touch with their grandparents. The legislation, which was recently granted royal ascent, will ensure that “courts now have to look at grandparents in a different light,” Mr. Mantha told the Toronto Star.

“Just the fact that grandparents had not seen their grandchildren for years, and what it meant to them,” Mantha said, in reference to discussions with families around Ontario. “Their hearts are devastated; they are just devastated and broken inside.”

By passing Bill 34, Queen’s Park brought Ontario in line with provinces and territories like Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Quebec, Nova Scotia, and Yukon, which have all recognized this issue within legislation.

In debating the Bill, Mantha pointed out a fact that Ontario family lawyers are well aware of: that familial estrangement is complex, nebulous, and rarely caused solely by divorce. And because of the many potential causes of familial dispute, some grandchildren are being unfairly withheld from their grandparents.

“Some people assume that these issues arise out of divorce, but this is not necessarily the case for most,” he said. “Sometimes the root cause is found in sibling jealousy over money, over disputes, people innocently speaking out of turn, or sons and daughters exercising their control. Most often, it just occurs with seemingly no logic, no reason – and it’s happening.”

The road to bolstering grandparents’ rights has not been a short one: before the passing of Bill 34, former Liberal MPP Kim Craitor of Niagara Falls worked for years to have the issue recognized.

“I was ecstatic when this finally passed,” Craitor told the Peterborough Examiner. “What is sad in some of these cases is that it has nothing to do with the relationship between the grandparents and the child, it was more of a disagreement between the family so the grandparents got pulled into it and it was not because they had done anything inappropriate and vice versa.”

“The emphasis was always that it had to be what was in the best interest of the child,” Craitor added.

With Bill 34 now passed, it will be up to judges and Ontario family lawyers to decide how the law will apply.

If you are interested in learning more about Bill 34 and grandparents’ rights, contact the Ontario family lawyers at Handa Law today for more information.

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