When someone becomes a grandparent, it’s generally a very happy event and nobody expects to one day find themselves fighting to even see the adorable kids in question.
But sadly for all concerned – not least the children themselves – grandparents can and do find themselves shut out. If their son or daughter splits up with their husband or wife, contact can suddenly go from a routine and joyful event to an exhausting struggle. The parents are, however, more likely to find themselves in this situation.
Do grandparents have any automatic legal rights?
This answer is no, but do not despair. The law does recognise that children have a right to a family life: and that family life does include grandparents with whom they have a good relationship – or at least, have done so in the past.
They won’t let me see my grandchildren – what on earth can I do?!
Don’t despair. There are measures you can take. If battle lines have been drawn and bitterness and family breakdown is keeping you from your children, you can turn to the family courts for assistance. This is, however, a two-step process. First you must apply to the court to permission to ask for help! A formality in most cases, but do bear this requirement in mind. Once you have obtained this permission you can then go ahead and apply for a court order specifying your right to see your grandchildren.
When is the best time to take action?
This is an important point. Turning to the courts before you’ve tried all you can to mediate and reconcile is a more-or-less guaranteed to way to antagonise the parents, especially the parent in law.
But if you dilly-dally too long positions could become entrenched and that all-important relationship with your grandchildren could start to fray at the edges. If that occurs, your legal position will start to weaken. It is a delicate balancing act. We recommend seeking advice from a solicitor. They will be able to work out the right time to take action.
Photo by David, Bergin, Emmett and Elliott via Flickr