What are Grandparents’ rights?

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It’s the time of year when unfortunately, we see a rise in divorce cases. In amongst the angst between separating couples, the grandparents involvement in a child’s life can be momentarily, if not altogether, forgotten about.

Grandparents bring so many important qualities to a relationship with their grandchildren, the value of which should not be underestimated. However, grandparents’ rights are often over-looked when a relationship ends, leaving them to face the heartbreak of losing contact with their loved ones.

Sadly, up to a million grandparents lose contact with their grandchildren every year, mostly due to family breakdowns, and whilst most people expect grandparents to have the legal rights to see their grandchildren, those rights are in fact limited.

However, the courts will look at granting permission for grandparents to apply for a Contact Order, formally known as a Child Arrangements Order, considering the following:

  • the grandparents connection with the child
  • the nature of the application for contact
  • whether the application could be potentially harmful to the child’s well-being

If successful, you can apply for a Child Arrangements Order through the court to gain access to a relationship with your grandchildren.

If one, or both parents raise objections, it is likely you will have to have to attend a full hearing in which both parties can put forward their evidence – you will need to persuade the court that you have a meaningful and on-going relationship with your grandchildren, which significantly benefits their lives – therefore it is imperative that excellent legal advice is sought.

The court will always consider all the child’s circumstances first and must only make an order where they consider it better for the child than making no order at all.

For example, they might have to weigh up whether your continuing contact with the child might have a negative impact on the rest of the family relationships; again it is only in extreme circumstance that a court will refuse a Child Arrangements Order.

Recent news suggests that Justice Minister Lucy Frazer QC has agreed to look at rules allowing grandchildren to maintain contact with grandparents after parental separation following pressure from MPs and campaigning groups. There could be an amendment to the Children Act, which would include a child’s right to have a close relationship with members of their extended family. The change would also cover aunts and uncles. The current rules mean relatives have to apply to court to gain access rights and then have a child arrangement order put in place.

For further information regarding family and children law, contact our specialists on 01792 468684 or email enquiries@pgmsolicitors.co.uk.

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