When parental relationships break down, grandparents are sometimes unable to see their grandchildren as often as they want.
Grandparents don’t have an automatic right to see their grandchildren, so those who are determined to maintain contact often seek a court order to ensure reasonable provision is made for the grandchildren to visit them. Here, David Connor explores the legal process.
Where do grandparents stand when parents split up?
Unlike most mothers and fathers, grandparents do not have parental responsibility, which brings with it automatic rights relating to a child.
However, grandparents can ensure they have greater involvement in their grandchildren’s lives through a child arrangement order. This sets out where and how often grandparents can see their grandchildren.
Family courts place the child’s welfare first and accept the important role played by grandparents, so usually ongoing involvement is only denied if there is evidence of abuse or violence, or other compelling reasons.
How to make sure you keep in touch with your grandchildren
When an order is in place, arrangements enabling you to see you grandchild must be respected, so if this doesn’t happen, you can return to court to have the order legally enforced.
In the first instance it is usual to negotiate with the parent the children are living with either directly or through mediation to agree on the arrangements.
If this goes smoothly, there will be no need to apply for a child arrangement order, but if an agreement is not reached, court proceedings can be started.
The court will take into account all relevant issues to see if contact arrangements can be agreed. A specialist officer from CAFCASS, the Child and Family Court Advisory Support Service, will probably be appointed to give an independent opinion about what is best for the child, including what the child thinks.
At the end of any proceedings, the court’s final decision will be determined by what it considers to be the best interests of the children.
For further advice on access to grandchildren, call David Connor on 01706 225621, or email him at email@example.com