08 November, 2010
The answer is strictly - No. There is no provision in law referring specifically to Grandparent's rights. However, that is not to say that a Grandparent cannot make an application to the Court in order to make arrangements to see a Grandchild. Of course, it is always preferable to reach an agreement out of Court, if at all possible.
If a Court application is required then a Grandparent will usually need to apply for the leave of the Court. This basically means that the Court needs to grant permission to the Grandparent as they are not automatically entitled to make an application. In fact, this rule applies not only to Grandparents but also to other extended members of the family.
When Judges consider the issue of leave they consider, amongst other things, the merits of the proposed application, the risk of disruption to the child and importantly the Applicant's relationship with the child. More often than not a Grandparent, who has had a relationship with the child, will be granted leave.
Once leave has been granted, the Courts deal with the substantive application for contact. When deciding whether a Grandparent should exercise contact the Court will have to decide whether it is in the Child's best interests.
In summary there is no such thing as "Grandparent's Rights", however every Grandparent, and any other family member for that matter, has the right to bring an application to the Court. Of the cases that the Family Solicitors at Forbes have handled the vast majority have been successful and some were resolved without any need to apply to Court.
It should also be noted that Grandparents can also apply for Residence of a Grandchild, especially where the child is already residing with them. In fact it is very important to apply for Residence, in these circumstances, in order to secure their position and also to acquire the legal rights necessary to make decisions regarding the child's upbringing.