Grandparents’ rights gets a boost

Government introduces changes to Maintenance and Custody Act

Staff ~ The Amherst News
Published on April 8, 2014
Grandparents Rights Association president Pauline Glenn was one of about 15 grandparents who protested Thursday near NDP MLA Lenore Zann's office in Truro to lobby support for grandparents' rights to see their grandchildren after family breakups. There is no legislation allowing visitation rights without consent of the child's parent. Matt Veno - Truro Daily News

HALIFAX - A long-standing campaign by Pauline Glenn to enhance grandparents' rights during custody disputes got a boost from the new Liberal government on 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 in a press release. "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 Wallace 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.

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.