Do grandparents have a legal right to see their grandchildren?
Grandparents play an increasingly important role in modern family life and a grandchild’s upbringing. Unfortunately, family complications such as divorce, bereavement and disputes can result in grandparents being denied access to their grandchildren.
What legal rights do grandparents have?
Unfortunately, as a grandparent, you do not automatically have a legal right to have contact with your grandchildren. It is predominately the parent’s decision as to who is allowed contact with their children. This sadly means that, when parents separate or experience complications, the relationship you have with your grandchildren could be affected.
How can I get access to my grandchildren?
Fortunately, informal communication amongst family will often reassure you that your relationship with your grandchildren can continue. It is important to approach each parent in a supportive, and most importantly, neutral manner. Family breakdowns are enormously stressful for all involved, and everyone will deal with them in different ways. Remember to stay calm and patient in allowing the parent/s to make a decision.
However, if you don’t receive the response you were hoping for, and one or both parents are stopping you seeing from spending time with your grandchild, there are several legal options available that allow you to request contact.
If you’ve been denied contact or you’re worried about losing contact with your grandchildren, our specialist child law solicitors can advise you on your options and guide you through the legal process to request access.
Using mediation to resolve visitation rights
Family mediation offers an alternative to court that is calmer and non-confrontational. It’s important to note that mediation is voluntary, however. You can’t force the parents to take part, nor can be sure that you’ll be able to find a compromise.
But if there’s a willingness on both sides to resolve your conflict, mediation gives you the opportunity to sit down with a specialist family mediator and consider how you’ll communicate with your grandkids in the future.
If grandparents and the parent/s agree to mediation, a ‘mediation information and assessment meeting’ (MIAM) will be arranged. This is to discuss the case with the mediator and for them to explain the mediation process, support you with resolving conflict, and make visitation agreements.
If mediation isn’t successful in achieving the contact you are looking for, you can talk to your solicitor about your other options which include negotiation via solicitors or making an application for a Court Order (Child Arrangements Order).
Applying to the court for contact with your grandchildren
When you make your court application to see your grandchildren, the court will need to consider several factors, including the relationship between you and your grandchild, your recent involvement in their lives and whether your application is likely to be disruptive to them.
Applying for a Child Arrangements Order
Before making a court application, you will need the court’s permission to bring your application. If the court grants you permission to make an application, the court will have to decide if, when and how you will get to see your grandchild or grandchildren. The court always prioritises the best interests of children involved in these proceedings.
A Court Order can determine where the child lives, who is allowed contact with them and when and what forms of communication should take place between the child and grandparent. This could involve direct interaction, such as face-to-face contact, or indirect communication, like phone calls or email.
Contact our grandparents’ rights solicitors in Bristol
If you’re a grandparent and you’re worried about contact with your grandchildren, get in touch with our specialist children law solicitors in Bristol and South Gloucestershire on 0117 325 2929 or complete our online enquiry form.