Family Forum: Concerned Grandmother

Seeking help to visit my son’s baby daughter

QUESTION:

My son has a baby daughter with a former partner. It was always a toxic relationship.

As I am the paternal grandmother, the mother has said I am not to contact her.

I have significant concerns for the emotional wellbeing of the child and her older sister. I am a senior mental health practitioner, so I am aware of indicators of attachment difficulties. The mother uses ice and alcohol and is extremely volatile.

When she was in a relationship with my son and lived interstate, she left a number of times to return to SA. Currently she is in SA.

My home is SA, but I travel for work. I would like to see my granddaughter on a planned, regular basis. Where do I go to initiate that process?

She is currently alleging family violence against herself by my son. I am aware that is a separate jurisdiction.

ANSWER:

It is understandable under the circumstances described that you have concerns about the safety and wellbeing of your grandchild and her older sister.

We suggest that you call the Child Abuse Report Line to discuss your concerns on 131478 if you haven’t already done so.

As a grandparent you are able to initiate Family Dispute Resolution (FDR) to discuss contact with your grandchild. Your son is also able to initiate FDR to develop a parenting plan. If it is possible and appropriate to engage in FDR  to discuss children’s needs and develop a child focused contact plan we recommend trying this before engaging in a legal process.

There are a number of organisations that provide this service in SA. They are Relationships Australia, Centacare, Family Relationship Centres, Legal Service Commission, Anglicare, Uniting Communities.

Normally attempting dispute resolution before making an application to court is required unless it is assessed as inappropriate for family dispute resolution or is an urgent matter.

It is possible for you as a grandparent to apply for a Court Order enabling you to see your grandchild should this be required.  The Federal Circuit Court deal with such matters. The Federal Circuit Court, like many other organisations, has issued a number of press releases concerning the COVID-19 virus, which you can access and read from the website.

It is also recommended that you seek legal advice on your rights before undertaking mediation and Court proceedings. Legal Services Commission can be contacted on 1300 366 424.

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