Grandparents Rights

Grandparents Rights

You can ask our solicitors for advice on grandparents rights using the question box on the front of our website or the following article may answer your questions.

Grandparents rights  being denied by one or another can be very painful for all concerned. 

Family breakdowns can be a challenge and they can occur for all sorts of reasons from a family dispute to parental separation or just a deterioration in a relationship. Sometimes, grandparents for one reason or another are denied contact with their grandchildren and so the important family bonds are broken and have to resort to the law for access to their grandchildren.

grandparents rights

This situation is, unfortunately more common than you may think, with around one million from the fourteen million grandparents rights are denied and unable to see their grandchildren.

If you have found yourself in this situation or you believe that a family feud will soon result in this occurring, it’s important to seek legal advice from a family law solicitor who can advise on your  grandparents rights and outline any options that you may have.

Objectivity is Key

A divorce or separation can be an incredibly stressful time for a couple and if the parents of your grandchildren are going through this difficult period, you must try to remain objective and not get involved in any disputes between the two parties.

While this may be difficult, particularly if you believe that one partner is being obstructive or refusing to cooperate but you believe that they may stop you seeing your grandchildren, remaining as objective as possible may be beneficial.

Sometimes, grandparents may feel as though they are caught in the middle of a deep rooted dispute and may feel anxious or uneasy about visiting grandchildren for fear of arguments or further disagreements. It is important that you firmly but calmly assert your wish to see the grandchildren in future and at regular intervals. This will inform the couple of your intentions without making a difficult situation even worse.

The bond between a child and their grandparents can never be replaced and thought must be given to the wishes and the preferences of the child. Even when divorces become fraught with difficulty or couples are barely on speaking terms, decisions about contact between children and grandparents should be made independently of any divorce proceedings. Decisions should be made in the best interests of the child.

Divorce and Grandparents Rights

Divorce can be an incredibly emotional time for all those involved so as a grandparent, as tempting as it may seem to get involved and share your opinion, it is important to recognise the fragility of the situation and give parents time to deal with the situation and resolve matters between themselves.

Although this may mean that initial contact between you and your grandchildren may be limited until matters settle down, respect this and give the parents space and time to become accustomed to a new way of life. In the majority of instances this limited contact will only be temporary and after a short while, you will be able to resume regular contact with your grandchildren.

That said, a temporary restriction of contact can sometimes turn into something longer term, particularly if the couple had a particularly difficult divorce or dissolution. If you have concerns after a reasonable period of time that your contact is being limited or restricted completely, it is advisable that you seek assistance from a family law solicitor.

The solicitor will be able to draft a letter on your behalf to outline your concerns and express your wish to see your grandchildren. If this fails to have any impact, you may need to apply to the court for contact.

Contact Application

It is important to note that parents or any adult with parental responsibility of a child has a legal right to determine who does and does not see their child. Usually, when this contact is denied, an individual may apply to the court to request access to the children. However, when it comes to grandparents, they don’t have the same legal rights.

The only exception to this rule is if they have been awarded parental responsibility. To have contact with your grandchildren you will need to make an application to the court. The best interests of the child will always be taken into consideration during such applications so it is wise to bare this in mind. In reviewing your application, the court will identify whether allowing access to the child will cause them disruption. They will also take into consideration the prior relationship that you had with your grandchildren.

A Child Arrangement Order

If after reviewing your initial application that it would be in the best interests of the child or children for them to see you, they may grant what is called a Child Arrangement Order. This will detail when and how you can see your grandchildren and will specify where, for how long and frequency of your visits. There may also be provisions attached to the order such as having supervision while you are with the children.

That said, it is strongly encouraged that grandparents and those with parental responsibility come to a mutual agreement without intervention by the court. Where this is possible and amicable discussions can be held, the restrictions placed on visitation can be relaxed. It is then up to you and the parents of the child to reach an agreement on when, where and how you can visit your grandchildren.

In some instances, you may feel that your grandchildren are in danger and can apply for a Child Protection Order. If this is an option that you wish to consider, it is essential that you speak to an experienced solicitor before making an application. A good solicitor will be able to help you navigate through the complexities of applying for such order, or suggest a suitable alternative route that you can take to avoid the need for intervention by the court.

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