04/07/2014 03:47 EDT | Updated 06/07/2014 05:59 EDT

Nova Scotia child access changes intended to make it easier for grandparents

HALIFAX - The government of Nova Scotia government introduced amendments Monday it says will make it easier for grandparents to seek legal access to their grandchildren when parents separate or divorce.

Currently, grandparents seeking access have to ask the court's permission for standing before they can proceed to a hearing.

Justice Minister Lena Diab 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.

She said the goal is to make the legal process less difficult for grandparents.

"The more steps you have the more difficulty you get," said Diab. "It takes more time, it takes more resources and more money."

She said the move is also a recognition of the important role often played by grandparents in a child's life.

The changes would also see courts consider including contact with grandparents as a factor in determining what is in the best interests of a child.

Pauline Glenn, president of the Grandparents Rights of Nova Scotia Association, said the changes are important at a time when traditional family structures are less prevalent and the influence of grandparents is growing.

"We feel it's their right to have access to their grandchildren," said Glenn. "The families are different today than when we were brought up."