If you are a grandParent you are probably discovering some legal roadblocks to raising your grandchild(ren). Grandparents have very few rights when it comes to their grandchildren. The policy in family services and legal minds is that children belong with their biological parents. And while I agree that children should always have time to connect with their parents, there are cases where being raised by their parents may not be the best scenario for them. If it was a perfect world and parents were always great at nurturing their offspring, we grandParents wouldn’t be in the situation of bringing up a second generation.
The legal stumbling blocks can cause frustrations and challenges. Unless grandparents go to court and win custody of the grandchild(ren) – and by the by, that happens very rarely and is a nasty and expensive endeavour – there are things grandParents are not able to do.
If the child needs medical tests or surgery, grandParents are not permitted to sign the consent papers. Imagine being in a medical emergency situation and facing that reality!
Obtaining a long birth certificate, which is needed to register a child for school, or a passport, which is needed for travel outside of the country, is fraught with difficulties.
Private health insurance will not include a grandchild unless the grandparent legally adopts the child. The legal hoops you have to jump through for this are huge, and again very expensive. Most grandparents on pension can’t even begin to think about this. However, should the child need braces, medical procedures not covered by health care, or expensive drugs, the grandparents must find the funds somewhere. (Bye-bye RRSPs.)
Now, if things are co-operative and congenial between the parents and the grandparents, things can be worked out. But if that is not the case, grandParents walk a nervous path. In fact, their ability to care for the child at all comes into question.
Some areas of the country are working on this issue. Lobby and support groups for grandparents are forming and pressuring the government for change. It is slow going though. In most areas, grandparents are still fighting for the right to visit their grandchildren should things be less than blissful between one or both parents and themselves. Divorce often separates grandchildren from their grandparents, and the grandparents have no legal recourse. There is a very long way to go before grandparents are seen as legal custodians of their grandchildren.