As a family lawyer over the years I have helped a number of grandparents who have questioned their rights and for various reasons have been stopped from seeing their much-loved grandchildren.
As a full-time working mum to three children, it is sometimes a struggle sorting out childcare for the children. As a family lawyer, I see this more so with my clients who are either together or separating. Like lots of parents I use a combination of childcare, school and family members to cover.
I was therefore interested to read the modern families index research findings which show that grandparental care was the most common type of non-parent child care they found with 41% of parents surveyed turning to grandparents.
The research further went on to show that for those who did use paternal and maternal parents, 56% relied on regular care for a set number of hours each week with 14% relying on what is described as regular light care such as dropping off or picking up from school.
Grandparents play a hugely important role in the lives of their children. Even if a marriage does end it is important to consider the relationship between the children and their grandparents and ensure where possible that the relationship continues despite the parents separating. Studies have shown that children may suffer significant harm if they lose regular contact with their grandparents.
Grandparents do not have legal rights to see their grandchildren. If contact between them breaks down and we are unable to help them negotiate a way forward with the parents, the grandparents will need to make an Application to the Court for permission to make an Application to see the grandchildren under a Court hearing. At that hearing, the Court looks at the relationship between the grandparents and the grandchildren the frequency of contact and the significance of the grandparents involvement in their lives.
Should you find yourself in the horrible situation where you are not seeing your grandchildren the first step is to always try communicating with the parents to see if an agreement can be reached. We can help you to communicate with the parents and if this is not successful, then we would consider a referral for mediation.
If neither of the above works, then it would be time to apply to the Court for a child arrangements order that you spend time with the grandchildren.
A Court will consider your application from the perspective of what is in the best interests of the children. This is the Courts paramount concern. However, with increased recognition by the Courts and society of the benefits of children having regular contact with their grandparents it should only be the case that grandparents are able to spend regular time with their grandchildren.
If you have any queries in relation to grandparents rights and access to grandchildren please contact Jane Ingleby at firstname.lastname@example.org
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