Grand job Darlene!

New bill empowers grandparents

By Sarah Sacheli, The Windsor Star September 25, 2010

For Windsor grandmother Darlene Hachey, Thursday was one of the most
fulfilling days of her life.

She travelled to Queen’s Park and witnessed a bill pass unanimously
through second reading. The bill enshrines the right of grandparents to
have contact with their grandchildren in the case of divorce and other
custody disputes.

“In the law, we don’t have any rights,” said Hachey, who collected
thousands of signatures petitioning the government to support Bill 22.
“It’s not just for the grandparents, but it’s in the best interest of the

The proposed legislation is a private member’s bill from Niagara Falls MPP
Kim Craitor. Craitor, a Liberal, first introduced the bill in 2004, but it
died when there was an election call. “It must be passed before the next
election, or it will be lost,” Craitor said.

The bill now goes to the provincial government’s standing committee on
social policy before, hopefully, getting third reading and passed into

It’s Craitor’s fourth attempt to get his amendment to the Children’s Law
Reform Act passed. What’s different this time is that he has the help of
large organizations like CARP, a lobby group that represents seniors, and
the CAW, the largest private sector union in Canada.

Hachey, when she learned of the bill, contacted her husband’s union, Local
444, and got other CAW retirees to sign her petition. Once the national
office in Toronto got on board, the petition was being signed by union
members throughout the province, she said.

Hachey said, in collecting petitions, she heard the saddest stories from
devoted grandparents who’d been cut off from the children they love. Some
were raising a grandchild, only to have the child ripped from them when
one of the child’s parents gained custody. “This will change that,” said
Hachey of the proposed legislation.

The bill proposes to add a subsection under the Children’s Law Reform Act
called “relations with grandparents.” It says, “a person who has custody
of a child shall not unreasonably place obstacles to personal relations
between the child and the child’s grandparents.”

The bill includes a clause that recognizes “the importance of maintaining
emotional ties between the child and his or her grandparents,” and says
judges deciding custody cases must assess the “willingness” of a person
applying for custody to facilitate contact between the child and his or
her grandparents.

“The court shall give effect to the principle that a child should have as
much contact with each parent and grandparent as is consistent with the
best interests of the child,” the bill reads.

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