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Do grandparents have the right to visit their grandchildren?

By: Steven Benmor, B.Sc., LL.B., Family Lawyer

Jurisdiction: Ontario (Canada)

Previously, the Ontario Court of Appeal, in the March 2, 2001 decision of in Chapman v. Chapman, considered whether access by a grandparent to grandchildren who live with their parents should be imposed over the wishes of those parents.

In that case, the court decided that the grandmother’s conflict with her children was unfortunate, but there was no evidence that the parents’ refusal to permit the grandmother access to her grandchildren was detrimental to them. Thus, the court ruled that the decision of parents to refuse a grandparent access should therefore be respected by the court and the children’s best interests should be left in the exclusive domain of their parents.

This ruling may have been loosened by the June 4, 2004 decision of Justice Sproat in the case of Dobre v. Dobre.

In that case, the grandparents on the father’s side applied to the court for access to their grandchildren, 5 year old Alexandra and 3 year old Antonio.

The children’s father did not participate in the court case because he was attending a treatment program for his drug addiction. The children’s mother opposed the application.

The court decided that it would be in the children’s best interests to have a relationship with their paternal grandparents and the rest of the father’s family. The court granted the grandparents supervised access at an access centre for 3 hours per week and invited them to have unsupervised access after a re-introduction period.

Steven Benmor

About the author: Steven Benmor practices Family Law in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Visit Steven Benmor’s online Family Law Resource Center for concise answers to many more frequently asked Family law questions, feature articles on Family law topics, dozens of links to other Family law websites, and more at The information on this page is for discussion purposes only. It is by no means legal advice or even a statement of the law on this subject. Please do not rely on the accuracy or completeness of this information. Any question or concern elicited by the information on this page should be taken to a lawyer who will consider the facts of each case and the legal remedies available.