Grandparents – Your Rights To See Your Grandchildren

Local Authority Grandchild

This is an issue that crops up quite often, especially when parents have separated, one parent is withheld from seeing their child but as a result may also impact upon a grandparent-grandchild relationship.

There is often an assumption that grandparents have automatic rights to see their grandchildren, unfortunately, this is not the case. The law does not give grandparents (Maternal or Paternal) any automatic rights to be in their grandchild’s lives. This means that if parents choose to keep their children away from grandparents, they are free to do so.

Contact arrangements for grandparents

If you find yourself in this situation what can you do?

Despite not having automatic rights, grandparents still have options available to them. The first and usually the most effective is to try resolving all issues between the adults, whether it is directly or via the mediation process, the latter must be undertaken in any event if issues cannot be resolved, and you are compelled to consider an application to Court. The situation can vary from case to case, it may be that the relationship between the adults has broken down or it may be that you as grandparents are concerned for the children, and in an attempt to intervene you are denied any further time with the child.

If you are compelled to seek legal advice, then you will always be asked whether or not you have attempted to speak with the parents of the child to try and resolve the issues and further consideration will be applied as to whether correspondence from solicitors may assist to resolve the issues amicably.

If an agreement cannot be reached and a referral to mediation has not yet been made, this will be the next step. Mediation is not only a better option to try and resolve the issues but also far more cost-effective than making an application to Court. You will need to attend a MIAM (Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting), this is compulsory. There are exemptions available for example if your grandchild is at significant risk of harm, but in most cases, the Court will expect you to attempt to resolve issues in mediation.

If mediation is considered inappropriate, breakdown, or is refused by the other party then the only available option to you is making a formal application to Cout to resolve the child arrangements. This is the last option we advise, however, this may be the only available option if all else has failed. As you hold no parental responsibility as a grandparent, you will need to first ask the Court for permission before being able to make an application for a Child Arrangements Order. If the Court grants you permission, then you can proceed with a formal application for a Child Arrangements Order, if however, the Court does not grant permission then you will not be able to proceed further.

Like all applications, the Court will consider each matter individually but must take into account the following:

  1. The nature of the application
  2. The applicant’s connection with the child
  3. Any risk of the proposed application disrupting the child’s life to the extent that they would be harmed by it.

If Court is the only option you feel is available then we highly recommend that you seek independent legal advice regarding your position and next steps.

How Nelsons can helpGrandparent contact rights

Rina Mistry is a Senior Associate in our Family Law team, advising on a wide range of family law work, and in particular specialising in private children’s law and children matters.

If you need further advice on the subjects discussed above, please contact us and we will be happy to discuss your circumstances in more detail and give you more information about the services that our family law solicitors can provide along with details of our hourly rates and fixed fee services.

For more information or advice, please call Rina or another member of our team in DerbyLeicester or Nottingham on 0800 024 1976 or contact us via our online form.

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