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Grandparent's Rights

December 10, 2010 permalink

Windsor grandparents are holding a vigil in support of pending bill 22, which gives grandparents a right of access to their grandchildren.

There is good and bad in this bill. It might help some families whose children have been seized by CAS claiming the parents are no good. Unless CAS asserts the grandparents are no good as well, the children will keep at least some connection with their family. The bad part is what happens when a child is living happily with mom and dad. The aphorism that too many cooks spoil the broth means trouble when a child's parentage expands from two to six. And beyond that, some grandparents have serious faults, best known to their own children. Without bill 22 a parent with a good-for-nothing dad can just say no to grandpa. With bill 22, a court challenge will bring the family dirty laundry into the courthouse to keep grandpa away from the kids.



Grandparents rally for child access rights

Sunday vigil to draw hundreds

Robert Drake and wife Susan
Dr. Robert Drake and his wife Susan in Windsor, Ont., on Dec. 9, 2010. Area grandparents will hold a candlelight vigil on Sunday in support of Bill 22, proposed legislation that would give grandparents rights in child custody disputes.
Photograph by: Jason Kryk, The Windsor Star

Dr. Robert Drake and his wife, Susan, miss their granddaughter terribly.

The 16-year-old girl lived with them for three months earlier this year when neither of her divorced parents wanted her. The courts held a hearing which resulted in the girl being placed in a group home in Dundas, Ont. The Drakes were barred from the courtroom, because as grandparents, they had no legal standing.

"It's as if grandparents don't even exist," said Robert Drake of how the law treats child custody cases.

The Drakes plan to attend an event at City Hall Square Sunday to raise awareness of the lack of grandparents' rights. Called "Grandparents Missing Grandchildren," the candlelight vigil is expected to draw hundreds.

Organizer Darlene Hachey said she's been inundated with phone calls since circulating flyers about the event. "Grandparents have no rights whatsoever," she said of the heart-wrenching stories from grandparents who are being kept from the children they helped raise.

Hachey is the local force behind Bill 22, proposed legislation introduced by a Niagara Falls MP that would amend the Children's Law Reform Act. The bill enshrines the right of grandparents to have contact with their grandchildren in the case of divorce and other custody disputes.

Hachey has collected more than 10,000 signatures petitioning the government to support Bill 22, and is doing a circuit of town council meetings to get municipalities to write letters of support as well.

The candlelight vigil is more personal. There, people will have the opportunity to share their stories of heartache.

One couple who contacted Hachey said they've lost all contact with the grandbaby they helped raise. They took in the baby's mother after she gave birth. After seven months, the mom put the child up for adoption.

Another couple's son died unexpectedly. Without a will naming his parents as his choice of guardian for his children, the kids were shipped to another province to live with their mother, who refuses the grandparents access.

"Laws need to be changed," said Hachey. Often it's grandparents who call authorities in the case of abuse or drug addiction or alcoholism that threaten their grandchildren. If one of the parents cleans up their act and regains custody, they can be "vindictive," punishing the grandparents by denying access to the children, Hachey said. "Times have changed. Children need their grandparents more than ever."

Bill 22 passed unanimously through second reading. It's now being studied by the standing committee on social policy before, its backers hope, it gets third reading and is passed into law. Hachey said it's important to pressure the government to move quickly, since an election call would kill the proposed legislation.

The bill includes a clause that recognizes "the importance of maintaining emotional ties between the child and his or her grandparents," and says judges deciding custody cases must assess the "willingness" of a person applying for custody to facilitate contact between the child and his or her grandparents.

The Drakes have hired a lawyer to try to convince a judge to let their granddaughter live with them. But they've been warned the case may not be heard before she turns 18 and can decide for herself. the details

Event starts at 5 p.m. The candlelight vigil, sponsored by CAW Local 444, will be held Sunday at 350 City Hall Square from 5 to 7 p.m.

Candles will be provided and there will be free hot chocolate donated by the Tim Hortons on Park Street East.

Source: Windsor Star