What rights do grandparents have during family disputes and breakdowns?

Grandparents often play a significant emotional and practical role in their grandchildren’s lives but unfortunately, they do not have an automatic right to see their grandchildren under the current law in England and Wales. Understandably, it can be very distressing for a grandparent to be separated from their grandchildren as a consequence of their child’s divorce or relationship breakdown. At Tisshaws, our specialist team of family lawyers have the experience and expertise to assist grandparents who find themselves in this situation.

As with any family dispute, it is always preferable if the situation can be resolved without going to Court. For this reason, grandparents should always try to reach an agreement with the parents or carers of the child. If an agreement cannot be reached, then grandparents can, in some instances make an application to the Court to grant contact with their grandchild.

Before any application can be made to the Court a grandparent will have to attend a Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting (MIAM), as a pre-requisite, unless there is an exemption. Grandparents can then apply for permission to apply for a Court Order to seek contact with their grandchild.

When deciding whether to grant this permission the Court considers:

  • The nature of the application
  • The grandparents’ connection with the grandchild
  • If contact with the grandparents disrupts the child’s life to the extent that it would be harmful to the child

The stronger the relationship between the grandparent and grandchild, the more likely it is that permission will be granted. The Court will always look at each case individually and will always consider what is in the child’s best interests. If the court considers that the application would be beneficial to the child, permission will be granted, and the grandparent can proceed with the application for a Child Arrangements Order.

For further useful information concerning grandparents please see www.kinship.org.uk

Please call us on 01444 472700 if you need advice concerning contact with your grandchildren.

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