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Hi there! My question is regarding grandparents rights in Ontario.

My husband and I are...
Hi there! My question is regarding grandparents rights in Ontario. My husband and I are still happily married and have two children, 4 and 1. Just before my son was born (my second child) we had a falling out with my husbands parents that involved a lot of fighting and terrible things said to us, particularily to my husband. We could not resolve it so we decided to keep them away from the kids and ourselves until they decided to change and apologize to us. We have had no contact for several months and they have only ever even met my son several times. We just found out that they suddenly think they have rights to force us to let them see our children and are preparing legal papers to send to us to try and sue us. I don't know what to do because we can no0t afford to go to court and fight it out. They have not been supportive at all and his father is also an alcoholic and very heavy smoker, so it isn't even a healthy environment for my children to be in at all. Do they actually have any claim here and could they possibly win in court to be able to see or take our children? I do not trust them at all and I'm very uncomfortable with the thought of them even around my children, and my husband feels the same. I just basically wanted to know the laws surrounding grandparents claims to children and visitation rights. Thanks!
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Answered in 16 minutes by:
3/21/2011
Debra
Debra, Lawyer
Category: Canada Law
Satisfied Customers: 102,580
Experience: Lawyer
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Debra Thal (username) :

They will not be able to take your children.

Debra Thal (username) :

But Courts in Ontario have awarded grandparents access rights.

Debra Thal (username) :

The Court will always make its decision based on what it considers to be in the best interests of the children.

Debra Thal (username) :

Usually it is considered to be in the best interests of a child to have a meaningful relationship with his/her grandparents unless there is evidence to the contrary.

Debra Thal (username) :

I would suggest at least going for a free consultation with a family lawyer.

Debra Thal (username) :

You can contact the Law Society and use their Lawyer Referral Service. You will be given the name of a lawyer and can consult with the lawyer and the first half hour will be free.

The number is:

1-800-268-8326 or(NNN) NNN-NNNN(within the GTA)

Customer:

Hi! Thank you for your time. Do you know if these visitation rights have been granted with intact happy families? Also, the kids have my parents who are the best grandparents ever. Would that be a positive on our side?

Debra Thal (username) :

Yes they have.

Debra Thal (username) :

Not really.

Debra Thal (username) :

The Court will need strong evidence as to why your spouse's parents should not be involved in the children's lives.

Debra Thal (username) :

It's likely that a lawyer will recommend you provide them some access when you are present.

Customer:

Some of the information I have read while researching has said that they have no legal claim to my children though. Should they not have strong evidence to prove that they should have access? They don't know my 1 year old son at all. Would this all apply to him too, or just my older daughter?

Debra Thal (username) :

No they do not need strong evidence to show why they should have access.

It will apply to both your kids.

You would have to show why all ties should be severed with their grandparents and you will need compelling evidence.

It's not that the Court will give them a lot of access but the chances are it will give them some.

Customer:

Is this all new, because all the information I have found, including from the Attorney Generals office website, says that the law is on our side and the courts do not usually go against the parents wishes. I'm just confused... What about the alcohol abuse and heavy smoking?

Customer:

Also that they have to prove they have a previous relationship with the child

Debra Thal (username) :

Those facts will be important and for sure a Court will order that they could not drink or smoke or be under the influence of alcohol when they are with the kids or possibly they would have to be supervised.

Debra Thal (username) :

But ou are preventing the access and they want it.

You cannot turn around and say they cannot have access because the aren't involved in the kids' lives.

Customer:

But they are my children, not there's. My husbands father in particular never had an interest in his own children, let alone my children. They said terrible things to us including that they couldn't be happy to be grandparents again if we ever had another one. They have given us no support at all. Why should they see my children?

Customer:

And I also told them that if they decided to fix things with their son and apologized to him, they would be able to see the kids again, and they have made no effort to fix anything

Debra Thal (username) :

There is not really any reason you should feel you have to convince me. I don't want you to feel worse.

I am a family lawyer in Ontario and the information I am providing is based on my experiences.

But each case depends on the facts.

And to be honest your last sentence is not a great position for you to take.

It says that to you this is about your spouse and not the kids and that you are using the kids as pawns.

So you have to be careful in your language. I don't mean with me of course but comments like that if said to them are going to give them the evidence they need.

Customer:

I don't understand. Does it have nothing to do with the relationship with us as the parents as well or are the decisions we make for the protection of our own children completely disregarded? I'm just confused because this is contradicting all the previous information I have found

Customer:

We did not take them away as a weapon or out of spite. It is for the protection of our own children

Debra Thal (username) :

Your wishes and decisions about your kids are considered to be very important and that is why those grandparents will not get to the see the kids as often as they would like to or for as long as the want to but I would be very surprised if the Court agreed that they cannot have any access to their grandchildren.

Customer:

do you think they could possibly get unsupervised visits and actually be able to take them out of our sight?

Customer:

any idea at all of the usual amounts of time the grandparents are usually awarded?

Debra Thal (username) :

I think that your feelings for them are so strong and so negative that if they were to get supevised access it would not be you supervising them.

Debra Thal (username) :

When the kids are little I would say they would likely get a couple of hours every other week or so.

But I don't know the facts really so this is more of a broad generalization really.

Debra Thal (username) :

What city are you in?

Customer:

even if they know nothing about the children? This is all just really strange... would it be some court appointed person supervising then? We are in Guelph

Debra Thal (username) :

If there was no one from any family that could supervised them then it could be through some agency.

But that would be a last resort and certainly not great for your kids.

Debra Thal (username) :

I don't know any lawyers in Guelph.

Debra Thal (username) :

There is one lawyer in Toronto that is very well respected in this field.

Debra Thal (username) :

Would you like his name and contact information?>

Debra Thal (username) :

It may be worth your while to have a brief consultation with him.

Customer:

does the whole court process involve the children in any way? Sure, some contact information would be very appreciated. I'm very upset by this whole situation

Debra Thal (username) :

It is possible that the Court would order an assessment.

That is where a psychologist would get to know all of you and then make a recommendation to the Court.

The lawyer I am thinking of is Paul Pellman.

I have to find his contact information.

Debra Thal (username) :

Just a minute or two please.

Debra Thal (username) :

http://www.pellmanfamilylaw.com/

Debra Thal (username) :

He has acted for several grandparents and so would be particularly useful for you to speak to.

Debra Thal (username) :

He's acted for parents as well.

Debra Thal (username) :

He is an approachable man and you won't find him intimidating at all.

Customer:

Thank you. Is it possible to use a mediator instead of going through the whole court process, in your opinion? We've never had to go to court for anything!

Debra Thal (username) :

Yes it is.

Debra Thal (username) :

I do not think you should go to Court if you can avoid it.

Debra Thal (username) :

It's expensive and you don't have any control.

Customer:

Is there anywhere else you can recommend that I get more information, that is fully updated, in the meantime. Some of the information I was finding was wrong apparently. I want to be as informed as I can be before this all happens

Debra Thal (username) :

I have to speak on the phone for a couple of minutes. I will be right back.

Debra Thal (username) :

Sorry about that.

Debra Thal (username) :

My son is in Florida for March Break with his grandparents and was calling me.

Debra Thal (username) :

Let me see if I can find you an article.

Customer:

No problem! Thank you very much. This type of information seems to be very difficult to find!

Customer:

I will look at it now, I don't think I have read it yet. Thanks

Debra Thal (username) :

And do call Paul. He will tell it the way it is and you will know more in terms of where you stand.

Customer:

I actually already looked at his website and emailed him while you were on the phone! I read the atricle and it still is all based on these special circumstances, such as death of a parent or divorce. If my mother-in-law cared about my children the way that woman in the article clearly cared about hers, or had such a good previous relationship with them before hand, we would not be in this situation to begin with! I will keep looking into it and hopefully it will all work out. Though I may look like a bitter daughter-in-law, my husband is totally with me as it was a joint decision, an dwe are lloking out for the best interest of our children. Thank you again for your information, advice and time. I appreciate it!

Debra Thal (username) :

I hope you can work this out. It must be just terrible for you.

Customer:

Certainly not the life I was expecting when we got married and started a family, but this is it now unfortunately. It is painful though. Thanks again

Debra
Debra, Lawyer
Category: Canada Law
Satisfied Customers: 102,580
Experience: Lawyer
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