Do you have a legal right to see your grandchildren?
As a grandparent, you play an increasingly important role in modern family life and probably spend more time with your grandchildren than ever before.
But if the family breaks up, what happens to you? If you’ve been denied contact or you’re worried about losing contact with your grandchildren, we look at the options available to you and whether you have any legal rights to see your grandchildren.
The sad reality is that parental separation can have an adverse effect on your relationship with your grandchildren. In fact, an estimated one million grandparents in Britain are currently being denied contact to their grandchildren as a result of a family breakdown, feud or bereavement.
Sound familiar? If so, where do you start?
Try not to take sides
If the parents are separating and you’re anxious about losing contact, your first priority should be to remain neutral.
We advise approaching either parent to explain your concerns and reassert your wish for you to continue having regular contact with your grandchildren. Our expectation is that most parents will offer reassurances that contact with your grandchildren will continue.
Don’t forget that family breakdown can be enormously stressful and people deal with the pressures of separation in very different ways. Give the parents the space they need and it may be that the time spent apart from your grandchildren is only temporary.
However if you feel that too much time has passed, or you haven’t got the reassurances you were hoping for, speak to a solicitor. They can draft a simple letter on your behalf that outlines why you feel that contact with your grandchildren is so important.
Applying to the court for contact
Estranged parents and those with parental responsibility have the right to go to court to ask to see their children. However, this isn’t the case when it comes to grandparents rights. Instead you have to apply to the court.
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 and whether your application is likely to be disruptive to them.
Applying for a Child Arrangements Order
If permission to apply for an order is granted, the court will eventually have to decide if, when and how you will see your grandchild and will regulate your time with them.
You should speak to a solicitor specialising in family law before you make an application for a court order. Court intervention is costly however and offers no guarantees – you should make sure that you’ve exhausted all other options before going down this route.
If the court decides that contact between you and your grandchild is in the child’s best interest, they may grant an order (called a Child Arrangements Order) to this effect.
If you’re a grandparent and you’re worried about contact with your grandchildren, contact our family solicitors in Bristol and South Gloucestershire on 0117 325 2929 or complete our online enquiry form.
We offer all clients a free 30 minute consultation with a family lawyer in Bristol to discuss your options and agree any next steps.