Viewpoint—Legislative Progress

“Progress is being made in jurisdictions across the country, and I’m pleased to note that, after many years of struggle for grandchildren and  grandparents’ rights in the Maritimes, Nova Scotia’s grandparent’s group won this first battle.

“Our quilt was on display in Nova Scotia in its early years and grandparents had the opportunity to contribute their stories.”
Daphne Jennings

New custody rights for grandparents in Nova Scotia came into effect on Monday, Sept 1, 2014, with changes made to the Maintenance and Custody Act. Over many years, grandparents had been unfairly shut out in custody cases. In the past, grandparents seeking access had to ask the court’s permission for standing before they could proceed to a hearing regarding access to their grandchildren.

COURTS RECOGNIZE GRANDPARENTS

With Bill 40, grandparents will not have to apply for standing. The court will recognize grandparents as part of the family where parents divorce or separate, and grandparents may ask for continuing access.

Pauline Glenn, a National Director for the Canadian Grandparents Rights Association, and a leader with the advocacy group Grandparents Rights for Nova Scotia had been fighting for this fathers and custodyday for 14 years.

“Although a cloudy and rainy day, for Nova Scotia’s grandparents and grandchildren it’s a sunny day,” Pauline said on CBC Radio’s Information Morning during an interview on Bill 40.

When Nova Scotia Justice Minister Lena Dian introduced the changes earlier this year, she said the amendments to the Maintenance and Custody Act would remove this step so courts would proceed directly to considering requests from grandparents for contact.

“We have a voice now,” Pauline said. “The courts will look at us more positively because we have rights.” It could save time and legal fees, as well. Pauline hopes the next step will be to expand the conciliation processes to include grandparents. Glenn compares losing access to grandchildren to experiencing a death in the family.

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