Do Grandparents Have a Say in Child Protection Matters?
It is relatively common for grandparents to become involved in child protection matters. Frequently, the grandparent has a bond with the child(ren) in need of protection and may wish to have care and custody of the child (ren).
However, grandparents are not automatically parties to a child protection proceeding. If the Children’s Aid Society and the parents are opposed to the grandparent’s custody objective, the grandparent may wish to make a motion to the court to be added as a party so that the court can evaluate the grandparent’s plan of care for the child (ren).
The governing rule for adding grandparents in a child protection proceeding is subrule 7(5) of the Family Law Rules which reads:
(5) Party added by court order – The court may order that any person should be a party shall be added as a party and may give directions for service on that person.
The court in Children’s Aid Society of London and Middlesex v. S.H., S.W. and D.R., 2002 CanLII 46218, set out four principles for the court to consider in exercising its discretion to add a party as follows:
(i) whether the addition of the party is in the best interests of the child,
(ii) whether the addition of the party will delay or prolong proceedings unduly,
(iii) whether the addition of the party is necessary to determine the issues, and
(iv) whether the additional party is capable of putting forward a plan that is in the best interests of the child.
In many cases, grandparents have met the legal test enunciated in Children’s Aid Society of London and Middlesex v. S.H., S.W. and D.R. It is not necessary for the court to determine at this stage whether the grandparent’s plan would be successful; the question at this stage is whether the grandparent’s plan merits consideration.
If the grandparent seeking to be added as a party has serious parenting issues of his or her own, the grandparent will likely not be added as a party. In Children's Aid Society of Dufferin County v. L.(A.), 2003 CanLII 53979 (ON CJ), the court determined that the grandparents were not capable of putting forward a plan that was in the best interest of the child, as the grandparents had drug, anger, and alcohol issues of their own.
If your grandchild is involved in a child protection proceeding and you think you can advance a plan of care for the child, you should contact a lawyer so that you can take the necessary steps to have a voice in the proceeding. If you reside in the Kitchener or Guelph area and need help with a child protection matter, call Purves-Smith Law at 519-835-2100 for a free half-hour consultation.