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Grandparents and Divorce or Separation
Divorce or Separation impacts on Grandparents too, although this is often overlooked. Yet grandparents can offer much-needed family support, particularly to grandchildren. Grandparents can be role models, supporters and stress-busters.

How to Support Grandchildren during a Divorce or Separation:

  • Respect your grandchildren's confidence – it's probably easier for them to talk to you than Mum and Dad right now so take the time to listen and give your grandchildren space to talk

  • Take care when giving advice – don't inadvertently criticise your grandchildren's parents and check your facts – our Stressbuster guide to Family Breakdown is available for free download or contact us for a free copy – unintentionally giving wrong advice will create bad feeling later

  • Offer to be a babysitter or childminder or to take your grandchildren for trips – your grandchildren will appreciate being with a familiar relative and it'll give their parents breathing space; emphasise the benefits for everyone

  • Accept that regular visits may temporarily stop or be re-arranged as grandchildren are settled into a new family routine.

What should Grandparents do if they fear they might lose Contact with their Grandchildren?

Initially approach your grandchildren's mother or father and explain that you wish to maintain contact with your grandchildren, focusing on the advantages of contact. Consider visiting when your grandchildren have contact time with their parent so the grandchildren see the whole family. This is a good way to re-establish a relationship if visits and/or contact has been stopped temporarily.

If this is unsuccessful, you can try mediation. However, for mediation to take place, both sides have to agree to mediate. Mediation is not a compulsory process.

A last resort is an application to the Court. However, there is no presumption of contact with grandparents (as there is with parents) and grandparents have to apply for leave to make an application. A Court will not wish to interfere with an absent parent's contact. Your grandchildren's parent may object. If so, you will have to persuade the Court that you had a meaningful and ongoing relationship with your grandchildren and it is in your grandchildren's best interests for this to continue. If this is agreed then your application for contact with your grandchildren will be considered. Part of this process may involve the appointment of a CAFCASS officer to prepare a report for the Court, which may take several weeks to complete. However, if the Contact Order is made, the parent may still make contact difficult.

Therefore it is important that if you have any concerns about contact issues with your grandchildren, you get legal advice. We offer free initial advice so that you can find out where you stand, and free walk-in clinics.

Please phone Alistair Dobson on 01858 445480, James Haworth on 0116 212 1000 or Sarah Townsend and Geraldine Watson on 0116 212 1080 to arrange a free initial appointment.

Please note this will be kept in strictest confidence and is required solely to ensure we do not have a conflict of interest according to SRA regulations. The party WILL NOT be contacted by Lawson-West.