"Can I see my grandchildren?"
Grandparents play an important role in the lives of their grandchildren, often being the go-to childcare for working parents and often providing babysitting duties. So what is a grandparent's legal right to contact with their grandchild(ren) if they find themselves in the unfortunate situation of the family breakup?
When a couple decide to divorce or separate, one of the first priorities is always to consider how arrangements will work for the child(ren) of the family. Decisions have to be made on where the child(ren) are to reside and how contact arrangements will work for the non-resident parent to see the child(ren).
"But what about Nanna and Grandpa – what are their automatic rights to contact?"
As it stands, the current law surrounding grandparent's legal rights in relation to seeing their grandchild(ren) after a divorce or separation is that there is no automatic right to contact. This means that there is no legal presumption that grandparents should be able to see their grandchild(ren).
In order for a grandparent to obtain contact with their grandchild(ren), should there not be agreement between the parents and grandparents, this then leaves grandparents with the option of either attempting mediation or making an application to Court for a Child Arrangements Order to spend time with their grandchild(ren).
Sounds fairly straightforward, however, it is not as simple as it sounds, as a grandparent first has to prove to the Court that they should be granted permission to make such an application. This means that if grandparents cannot establish a good enough relationship with their grandchild(ren), or it is not in the best interests of the child(ren) to have contact with them, they are unlikely to succeed.
The Court, in considering whether to allow permission for a grandparent to make an application for contact with their grandchild(ren), will consider the following factors:
The grandparents' connection with the child(ren);
The nature of the application for contact; and
Whether there is a risk that the application could disrupt the child(ren)’s life to the extent it causes them harm
In some circumstances, grandparents may not be required to seek permission from the Court, such as if the grandchild(ren) has been living solely with the grandparents, for a certain length of time, prior to the making of the application.
If Grandparents are successful in obtaining permission from the Court, the Court will then look to deal with the substantive application. The Court in making any decision relating to children, always consider the Welfare Checklist, as their paramount consideration is always the child(ren).
If you are looking for help and guidance on how to resume contact, gain an understanding of the process involved or try to open the lines of communication between yourself and the parents of your grandchildren in order to secure the relationships you've worked hard to build with your grandchild(ren), then please do not hesitate to contact Lawson-West Solicitors' Family Team.
Our family department specialises in helping families to re-forge meaningful relationships and assist in working out solutions to these increasingly common-place scenarios.
Call us on 0116 212 1000View all