Government introduces changes to Maintenance and Custody Act
A long-standing campaign by Pauline Glenn to enhance grandparents' rights during custody disputes got a boost from the new Liberal government on Monday.
A long-standing campaign by Pauline Glenn to enhance grandparents' rights during custody disputes got a boost from the new Liberal government on Monday. Glenn and members of her organization picketed in front of then MLA Brian Skabar's offce in 2012.
HALIFAX – Grandparents seeking access to their grandchildren will have a simpler court process under legislation introduced Monday.
Sometimes grandparents need the court's help to see their grandchildren, especially when parents separate or divorce. Amendments to the Maintenance and Custody Act will remove a step for grandparents seeking access, and add more considerations to determine the best interests of the child.
"Grandparents often play a key role in children's lives," said Justice Minister Lena Diab. "They can provide love and stability, which is especially important for children going through difficult situations such as family separations.
"These changes stress the importance of grandparents and provide them with direct access to the court when needed to stay involved in their grandchildren's lives."
Currently, grandparents seeking access have to ask the court's permission for standing before they can proceed to a hearing. The amendments remove this initial step, so courts will proceed directly to considering the grandparents' request for contact.
"These are changes we have requested for a very long time," said Malagash resident Pauline Glenn, president of the Grandparents' Rights for Nova Scotia Association. "We have so much to offer our grandchildren and their parents, and we want to play an important role in their lives."
Other clauses in the amendments ensure that when grandparents apply for access, the courts will consider including contact with grandparents as a factor to determine what is in the best interests of a child.
Glenn’s association has waged a long battle to improve grandparents’ access to their grandchildren.
In June 2012 they picketed then NDP MLA Brian Skabar’s office in Amherst. Skabar at first supported Glenn’s cause but changed his mind saying grandparents’ rights should not supercede parents’ rights.
The NDP government voted against a Conservative-sponsored bill in 2010 to enhance grandparents’ rights.
In 2009, her organization presented a petition with 7,377 signatures calling for legislation to give grandparents stronger rights.