Grandparents raising Grandchildren: Even a non-parent can be a ‘parent’

A case in the Family court concerned an application by the maternal grandmother to have sole parental responsibility for the child aged four. The child’s mother died at the age of 21 when the child was only two years old. The maternal grandmother’s application was supported by the paternal grandmother.

Prior to the death of the mother, Orders were made which provided for the child to live with the maternal grandmother and for the child to spend supervised time with the father.

The current hearing came before the court in May 2014 however there was no appearance by, or on behalf of, the father. The Judge took the view that had the hearing been adjourned because of the non-attendance of the father, then this would leave uncertain the circumstances of the child. Previous cases which had addressed this issue concluded that it was in the best interests of the child for the litigation to be brought to an end as soon as possible. This view considered that the impact of the proceedings themselves on the child was very important, not just the outcome of the proceedings.

The child had been living in the home of the maternal grandparents since October 2012, has a settled routine and is progressing well and meeting development milestones. The child has a good relationship with the paternal grandmother and both grandmothers work cooperatively in relation to the child’s time with the paternal grandmother and the supervised time the child spends with the father. The father has an ongoing drug problem and has failed to engage in any form of drug rehabilitation program. He is unemployed as well.

The Judge ordered that the maternal grandmother have sole parental responsibility for the child and that the child have supervised time with the father.


This article remains the property of Kate Austin Family Law and can only provide basic information and is not intended to be a substitute for legal advice. This information cannot be relied on as a substitute for legal information and it is only general by nature. This information was generally correct at the time of writing but changes in legislation or procedure may change.