Grandparents Parenting

Grandparents Parenting

This publication is for grandparents who act as parents on PEI. It explains how family law impacts your relationship with your grandchild.


For general information about family law, read Family Law Essentials. For detailed information about parenting and child support, read Parenting and the Law.

  • Who is a parent?

    The word ‘parent’ may mean:

    • A mother.
    • A father.
    • A person who acts as a parent to the child.

    Parents make decisions like:

    • Where the child lives.
    • Who makes major decisions for the child.
    • How much time the child spends with each parent.

    A parent must financially support their child as long as the child is dependent. A parent cannot ignore or deny this responsibility.

  • What are parenting time and decision-making responsibility?

    Parenting time is the time a child spends in the care of a parent. Decision-making responsibility means making major decisions for a child. For example, about the child’s health, education, or culture.

    In 2021, there were changes to the law about parenting. A parent’s responsibilities used to be called “custody” and “access.” Now, these responsibilities are called decision-making responsibility and parenting time.

  • What is contact?

    Contact is when a person who is not the child’s parent spends time with the child. For example, contact may include visits with the child, video chats, telephone calls, or letters.

    Usually, a parent must not stop their child from spending time with people who are important in the child’s life. This includes family or friends the parent does not get along with. The exception is if the parent has concerns about the child’s safety or well-being.

  • What if I am not a parent, but I play an important role in the child's life?

    You can take steps to protect the child’s relationship with you. Legal documents can make things easier in the future.

    Examples of legal documents include parenting agreements, contact orders, parenting orders, and adoption orders. This publication explains what these documents are and how to get them.

  • What is a parenting agreement?

    A parenting agreement is a contract that explains each parent’s role and responsibilities. This is also called a parenting plan.

    A parenting agreement is legally binding if it is:

    • Written down.
    • Dated.
    • Signed by each person in front of a witness.
    • Signed by the witness.
  • Can I be in a parenting agreement if I am not the child's parent?

    Yes, you can be in a parenting agreement even if you are not a parent. You can be in a parenting agreement with the child’s legal parents. You must follow the rules above.

    A parenting agreement may include information about your role for the child. For example, the agreement could say that you will make decisions about the child’s health and education or that the child will always sleep at your home.

  • What is a parenting order?

    A parenting order is a court order about decision-making responsibility and/or parenting time. You must apply to the court to ask for a parenting order. A parenting order:

    • Includes rules the family must follow.
    • Can be temporary or permanent.
  • Can I apply for a parenting order if I am not the parent?

    Yes. According to the Children’s Law Act, a person other than the child’s parent can apply for parenting time or decision-making responsibility.

    You may apply for parenting time or decision-making responsibility if you:

    • Stand in the place of a parent (meaning that you have acted as a parent to the child), or
    • Intend to stand in the place of a parent to the child.
  • What does a judge consider when making a decision that affects a child?

    A judge only considers the best interests of the child when making a decision that affects the child. What the judge thinks is best for the child may be different from what you think is best.

    The judge will consider:

    • The child’s safety, needs, and well-being.
    • The child’s relationships with their parents, siblings, grandparents, and other important people in their life.
    • The child’s views and preferences, when appropriate.
    • The child’s culture, language, religion, and spirituality.
    • Each parent’s willingness to support the child’s relationship with the other parent.
    • Each person’s willingness to prioritize the best interest of the child.
    • If family violence is present.

    It is important for the judge to know:

    • Who has cared for the child in the past and the child’s relationship with that caregiver.
    • What plans the person applying for an order has for the child.

    A judge’s decision is not affected by:

    • Age.
    • Income.
    • If a person is named on the birth certificate or not.
  • Do biological parents have rights?

    The best interests of the child are the only consideration for family law issues that affect children. The judge may consider a person’s biological connection with a child after the best interests of the child are considered.

  • Will the parenting order consider the child's preferences?

    The judge decides when it is appropriate to consider the child’s wishes. If necessary, the judge will order that a family court clinician:

    • Interview your child and prepare a Views of the Child Report. A Views of the Child Report shares a child’s preferences about one or two specific topics.
    • Complete a Parenting Arrangement Assessment. A Parenting Arrangement Assessment (previously called a home study) gives the court evidence about the parenting situation and best interests of the child. The Parenting Arrangement Assessment may also recommend a parenting plan. You must cooperate with an assessment if it is ordered.
  • What is a contact order?

    A contact order is a court order that allows a person who is not the child’s parent to have contact with the child. Contact orders may have the same conditions as parenting orders, such as that the child cannot be relocated.

  • Who can apply for a contact order?

    Anyone other than a parent can ask for a contact order. Applying for a contact order is a legal process. A judge decides whether to make the contact order or not.

    The judge bases their decision on the best interests of the child. See page 10 for more information.

  • Can a child have a lawyer?

    In high-conflict family law situations, your child may qualify to be represented by the Children’s Lawyer. The Office of the Children’s Lawyer represents the child and their best interests in disputes about parenting time, decision-making responsibility, and contact.

    Contact the Office of the Children’s Lawyer for more information.

  • What is adoption?

    Adoption is a legal process that makes a new parent-child relationship. If you adopt your grandchild, they are legally your child and you are their parent.

    The former parents of the child do not have parenting responsibilities after adoption.

  • What are the types of adoption?

    The Adoption Act states that adoptions can only be arranged in one of three ways:

    • Through the Director of Child Protection either via the Child Protection Act or the Adoption Act.
    • Through a private adoption licensed by the Director of Child Protection.
    • By a permit issued directly to the birth parent(s) by the Director of Child Protection for placement with relatives.

    Relative adoption is when a person adopts a child related to them.
    Read the publication for the steps of a relative adoption.