Grandparents rights to access to children

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Article

30 June, 2021

When families separate it is always a difficult and stressful period for all involved particularly for the children and their extended families. As a result of a family breakdown grandparents can ultimately miss out or be excluded from vital contact with their grandchildren.

Whilst the parents of the children may become involved in child contact arrangements through the court this may not include contact with grandparents.

Under the current family law, grandparents do not have the automatic right to see their grandchildren. Any contact the children have with their grandchildren would need to be agreed to by the parents. If the grandparents do not have a good or amicable enough relationship with their own child/ren or the other parent to make suitable contact arrangements after a separation or a divorce, grandparents can consider instructing their own solicitor to assist in firstly trying to make amicable contact arrangements.

The best and most effective way to reach a contact arrangement is seeking an amicable solution between all parties. Our family department can assist and provide an avenue for communication and negotiation between the parties on the grandparent's behalf. This, however, is not always possible and if after amicable discussions arrangements between parties cannot be made, then we can look to seek the courts assistance by making a child arrangement order application to the court on behalf of the grandparents.

Initially when grandparents are seeking the courts assistance in making a child arrangement order the grandparents, would firstly need permission from the court to make this application.

When a grandparent is looking to seek permission from the court to make an application to the family court, the court will consider the following factors before granting permission to file a child arrangement order application.

  • They will consider the grandparent's connection and relationship with the child/ren
  • The nature of the application for contact, what contact arrangements you are seeking in the order
  • If there is a risk that application would disrupt the child/rens life to the extent to cause harm.

In order to address the above factors a supporting statement would be filed to the court with the reasons for the application and the grandparent's position with contact with the grandchildren.

Once permission is sought from the court and an application is filed for a child contact arrangement order. The same principles are then applied by the court as would be applied for a parent making an application for a child arrangements order, this is deciding what contact is in the children's best interest. Throughout any court proceedings the court consider the children's welfare as paramount.

If you are experiencing difficulties with access and contact to your own grandchildren we can provide you with advice and support to assist you with any contact arrangements.

For more information contact our Family/Divorce department via email or phone on 0800 689 3206. Alternatively send any question through to Forbes Solicitors via our online Contact Form.

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