Grandparents play an increasingly vital role in modern family life and the upbringing of grandchildren.
However, when family issues such as divorce rise, it can lead to grandparents being prevented from seeing their grandchildren.
The resulting distress and loss can be devastating.
What rights do grandparents have?
Unfortunately, as a grandparent, you do not have an automatic legal right to have contact with your grandchildren. The parents reserve the right to choose who has access to their children. This means that when parents divorce or separate, there is a risk your contact with your grandchild could be affected.
How can I regain contact with my grandchildren?
Simply discussing your concerns with your grandchild’s parents may reassure you that there is no intention of stopping your contact with your grandchildren.
It might help to make it clear than you will continue to offer your love and support. As the parent of one party, it’s helpful to approach conversations with your former son- or daughter-in-law in neutral manner and avoid taking sides.
If discussions have been unsuccessful and one or both parents are preventing you from spending time with your grandchild, there are some legal options.
If you are concerned about losing touch with your grandchildren, or are being denied access to your grandkids, our specialist family lawyers can guide you through the legal process of requesting access.
Family mediation is an effective alternative dispute resolution (ADR) process in which an impartial, professionally trained mediator helps families to reach decisions.
As a voluntary and non-adversarial alternative to court, you can’t force the parents to participate, and you can’t guarantee that you’ll be able to reach an agreement.
However, if both parties are eager to resolve their issue, mediation allows you to meet with a qualified family mediator and plan how you’ll communicate with your grandchildren in the future.
If all parties consent to mediation, a ‘mediation information and assessment meeting’ (MIAM) will be scheduled. The mediator will aim to find out more about the case, explain more about the mediation process, and begin to help you resolve the issues and agree visitation rights.
If mediation isn’t successful, a family lawyer can help with direct negotiations, or as a last resort, you can apply for a court order (child arrangements order).
Applying to the court for a child arrangements order
If direct negotiation and mediation aren’t successful, you can apply to the courts for a child arrangements order to gain access to your grandchildren.
The court will consider the child’s best interests, the relationship between you and your grandchild, your recent involvement in their lives, and whether your application is likely to cause them disruption. All that matters to the court is the welfare of the child.
Because you don’t have parental responsibility for the grandchildren, you must first seek the court’s permission to proceed with your application.
You will need to fill in the C100 application form and send it to your nearest family court. Fees apply. You can find more information about the court application process on the government’s website.
If permission is granted, your application will be heard by the court. it will decide whether, when, and how you will be able to communicate with and visit your grandchild or grandchildren.
If you want to learn more about grandparent rights in the UK, or any other family law matters, we recommend seeking legal advice. Contact our Client Care Team to speak to one of our specialist family lawyers.