Grandparent’s rights after Divorce

We are often asked what grandparents rights are when a relationship breaks down and parents’ divorce.

Unfortunately, grandparents do not have an automatic right to contact with their grandchildren and it is not against the law for a parent to refuse contact. However, the family courts do recognise that grandparents play a vital role in the upbringing of their grandchildren, and it is very rare that the court would refuse a grandparent access to grandchildren unless there is evidence of abuse or violence.

 

There are options available for grandparents if they find themselves in this difficult situation.

Mediation

This can be a useful tool when it comes to settling issues outside of court.  Mediation is designed to resolve matters amicably without using litigation.  Family disputes can often become heated with no clear resolution, and the involvement of a third-party mediator can help to take the heat out, providing control and facilitating good discussions and agreements from an objective standpoint.  If needed, legal help can also be obtained alongside mediation.

Courts

Only people with parental responsibility, for example parents, step-parents or guardians can make an application for a child arrangement order. Whilst grandparents’ rights are limited they can request permission (leave) to apply for a child arrangement order. However, they must have attempted mediation prior to lodging the request. The courts will take in account:

o   the nature of the application for contact

o   the connection with the child

o   if there may be potential harm to the child’s well-being in any way.

If successful, they can apply for a child arrangement order through the court that sets out arrangements for time spent with their grandchild. However, permission from the court to make the application does not mean that the application for a child arrangement order itself will be successful. 

The grandparent will need to persuade the court that they have a meaningful and on-going relationship with their grandchild that benefits their lives and is in the child’s best interests, including whether the order will have a negative impact on other family relationships. The child’s ‘best interests’ is always the top priority with the courts.

 

If you would like to discuss any of the points raised in this article with an experienced family law solicitor, please call Parrish Family Law on (01234) 711701.

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