What rights do grandparents have after divorce?

The aftermath of family breakdown and divorce can be heart breaking for grandparents as they have no automatic legal right to see their grandchildren if a parent prevents it. It can be equally hard for grandchildren who miss the unconditional love and support of their grandparents.

The grandparent relationship offers many benefits to children including stability, support, wisdom, joy, and love. In fact, in some cases grandparents can offer their grandchildren more emotional and financial support than their stressed and overworked parents.

Sadly, in the fallout from family breakdown and divorce, particularly when emotions are running high, one parent may stop their children from spending time with their ex-partner’s family. This means not only are children having to cope with the turbulence of family breakdown but are also having to deal with the loss of grandparents they may have enjoyed a close and loving relationship with.


What to do if you are prevented from seeing your grandchildren

In the first instance, we would advise trying to speak to the parents or carers of the child to try to reach an agreement on contact with your grandchildren. Listen to their concerns and try to address them where appropriate. Emphasise the additional support, stability and love you can offer during such a stressful time.

If this doesn’t work, it is possible to make an application to the court for access rights. Before this is allowed, grandparents will need to attend a Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting (MIAM). Again, the aim of this meeting is to find a solution without resorting to court.


How do the courts decide on contact issues?

If there is still no agreement, grandparents can apply for permission to seek a Court Order for access to their grandchildren. Before ruling on this, the court will consider the following factors:

  • The nature of the application.
  • The level of connection between the grandparents and their grandchildren.
  • Whether contact with grandparents would disrupt the children’s life to the extent that it could be considered harmful.

The court will always consider what is in the best interests of any children. Where there has been a strong relationship with grandparents and the court decides it is beneficial to the children to maintain this, they will grant permission for grandparents to apply for a Child Arrangements Order.

This will outline the specific access the grandparents can have and is legally binding. If a parent still prevents contact, breaching the terms of the court order, an application can be made for enforcement by the courts, resulting in a fine or imprisonment.

Additional information on the rights of grandparents is available on the government website https://www.gov.uk/contact-grandchild-parents-divorce-separate.


We have extensive experience in dealing with children matters. If you would like to talk to a family lawyer about this or any other issue pertaining to family breakdown, separation, and divorce, we offer an initial no obligation 60-minute appointment for £50 (incl. VAT).

We can arrange this in person at our office in Haywards Heath or on a video call. To book an appointment please call 01444 472700, email info@tisshawssolicitors.co.uk or complete the form below.

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