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Grandparents and child custody matters

Grandparents play an essential role in caring for children, particularly after separation.

  • Do grandparents have the right to see their grandchildren in Perth?

The simple answer is Yes!

Generally, the Family Court of Western Australia will consider that grandparents have a right to have a relationship with their grandchildren after the parents separate. The family court in Perth will make orders for families and children that live in the Perth metropolitan area and regional Western Australia.

  • What custody rights do grandparents have?

 Grandparents have a right to be involved in their grandchildren’s lives, which includes spending time with them, having video calls or telephone communication and watching them at school events, assemblies and extra-curricular activities.

The Family Court also believes that grandparents can step in to care for their grandchild or grandchildren and have custody. Sometimes, a child welfare authority, like the Police or the Department of Child Protection, can make recommendations for a grandparent to care for a child when their parents separate or when there is a significant risk issue affecting the parent’s ability to care for a child, such as drug use or family violence.

A grandparent can apply for child custody in the Family Court of Western Australia. They can also ask the Court to make orders to enrol the child in school, seek medical treatment, or travel within or outside Australia with the child. The Family Court of Western Australia also hears court applications made by grandparents for a recovery order and relocation application.

  • What can I do if current court proceedings are in place and I am a grandparent?

 As a grandparent, you can seek the Court’s permission to join in the court proceedings between the parents. Once that permission is granted, you can participate in the court proceedings and seek orders about the grandchild.

You should file a court application in the Court to tell the Court what orders you are seeking. On certain occasions, you can ask the Court for an urgent recovery order or relocation application concerning the grandchild.

  • As a grandparent, how do I start court proceedings in the Family Court in Perth?

If the matter is not an urgent parenting matter, the Family Court requires parents and grandparents to attend mediation to try to resolve the children’s issues. This is also known as family dispute resolution. Once mediation is attempted, you will receive a certificate and can commence court proceedings in the Family Court of Western Australia.

Mediation is sometimes inappropriate, or there are urgent matters where the Family Court does not expect you to go to mediation. In these circumstances, you can file your court application in the Family Court without undergoing mediation. Still, you must explain to the Court why you cannot attend mediation or the urgent circumstances.

  • What do I do if I have concerns about my grandchildren being in the care of their parents?

There are some great organisations out there that can assist grandparents, such as not-for-profit, Police and the Department of Child Protection. Perth also has some grandparent support groups in the metropolitan area and regional Western Australia.

The best starting place is to see a family lawyer specialising in custody disputes so you can better understand your legal rights as a grandparent.

Contact us

For all enquiries, please get in touch with Robertson Hayles Lawyers at (08) 9325 1700  by email at or via our contact form, and we will be happy to assist you. The information provided in this article is generic. Please speak to a lawyer to discuss your circumstances.