Grandparent Rights Bill Receives Second Reading....Again

A private member's bill aimed at bolstering grandparents' rights is slowly making its way through the echelons of the provincial legislature - and lobbyists are hoping that this time will be the last. Six versions of the bill made it as far in years past but failed to become law in Ontario.

As it stands currently, grandparents in Ontario have no automatic rights to see their grandchildren after a separation or divorce. It's up to the parents to grant or deny access - a decision that can feel like a veritable crapshoot for both grandparents and grandchildren, especially during bitter custody disputes where children may be used as pawns.

Ontario Trails Behind In Grandparent Rights

Throughout the province, an estimated 75,000 grandparents are currently barred from seeing their grandchildren - numbers that impact 112,000 children.

Recognizing the potential negative consequences of denying access, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Nova Scotia, Yukon and Quebec now have legislation that touches on grandparent rights. If passed, Bill 34 - Children's Law Reform Amendment Act would obligate courts in Ontario to consider grandparents' rights as part of custody hearings so long as access would be in the best interest of the children.

Sonya Cianciullo is with the Ontario chapter of Alienated Grandparents Anonymous, a group that has been fighting for change since 2005. Identifying the true focus of the bill, she stated: "We are not here to fight for ourselves. We are here to fight for the rights of our grandchildren because they do not have a voice and their rights are sometimes not respected."

Since the second reading on November 3, the fate of the bill remains to be seen.

Battling custody and access issues?

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