We have seen a rising number of court cases with grandparents trying to win the right to see their grandchildren when they have been denied contact.
MPs have called on the government to change the law and give grandparents the right to see their grandchildren after a divorce. An amendment to the Children Act has been suggested, with supporters keen to see it changed to include a child’s right to have a close relationship with members of their extended family.
As the law stands, grandparents don’t have an automatic right to have contact with their grandchildren if a parent wants to stop it. Nevertheless, the law recognises the important role that grandparents play in their children’s and grandchildren’s lives.
Here are some steps you can take to get access:
Our first advice would be to first try to get an informal arrangement with both parents. The risk with an informal arrangement is that it might eventually be ignored but on the other hand, it could end up being the quickest solution.
If the relationship between the parents has significantly broken down, then you may be able to use mediation as a way forward.
A mediator can help you try to reach an arrangement with the parents especially if you believe you have a strong possibility of success. As mentioned above, under UK law, grandparents do not hold ant rights regarding the grandchildren and the only way to gain access is to apply for a court order.
A mediation meeting has to occur before you can apply for a court order unless you are exempt.
The first step is to apply for a permission to apply for a court order. The court will consider the nature of the application, your connection with the child and whether the application might potentially be hurtful to the child.
If permission is granted, you can then apply for a Contact Order. The court will always consider all the family circumstances and will try to make the best decision for the child’s happiness.
If the parents raise objections you might have to attend a hearing where both sides will have to put forward their reasonings and evidence. At this point, it’s really important to receive legal advice and representation that will help you persuade the court that you have a significant relationship with your grandchildren.
Our Family law team has helped many grandparents resolve disputes and gain access to their grandchildren. If you need help with your case, please call us or use the contact form on our website for an initial chat.