“We’re worried we won’t see our grandchild when his parents divorce. What can we do about this?”

Yvette akonta portrait.

Yvette Akonta

Trainee Solicitor

Phone 01264 325817

Email yakonta@bsandi.co.uk

Divorce is rarely just about the people at its centre. While the couple and their children bear the brunt of the huge changes that divorce brings, the wider family is also affected and must adapt – and that’s not easy.

When separated parents are in the midst of a divorce, the needs and wishes of grandparents sometimes fall beneath the radar. Focus is on trying to find common ground on the practical post-divorce terms - maintenance payments, the family home, children’s living arrangements – and this process can be extremely challenging, particularly when the relationship between parents is at its weakest point. While grandparents are often called on to help with childcare during this time, they don’t always emerge (as parents do) with a plan for contact once the divorce has gone through. In some cases, grandparents are sadly cut out of grandchildren’s lives completely.

You may be worrying unnecessarily but it is worth understanding where you stand, legally.

As grandparents, you don’t have an automatic legal right to spend time with your grandchild. However, assuming there is no good reason for the contact to be restricted or to end, you wouldn’t have to simply accept the situation.

So, what are the options? 

  • Have a conversation.

Speaking to your son or daughter is usually the best starting point. Family dynamics and the situation in which you find yourself need to be carefully considered first. When is the right time to raise this? Should you speak to both parents together? How will you explain things from your perspective? What does ‘reasonable contact’ mean to you? What will you ask for? These are all things to think about beforehand. In fact, we often help clients work through this, advising in the background. 

  • Get third-party help.

It sometimes takes an impartial person to help families navigate issues. A professional mediator can be invaluable in situations in which two or more people are willing to cooperate in resolving their situation. Mediation may be worth considering if informal conversations don’t provide the answer.   

  • Ask the court.

If mediation doesn’t work (and it needs to be attempted before taking the court route), you could look to apply to the court for an order enabling you to spend time with your grandson. The court would decide the level and type of contact that would be in your grandson’s best interests. 

Grandparents sometimes worry that by speaking up they’ll be further rocking the family boat but that needn’t be the case.

Contact us on family@bsandi.co.uk for advice on your situation or call on 01264 353411 and we’ll help you do the right thing in the right way.

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Find out more about how we can help you in your circumstances by contacting us. You can call us on 01264 353411email us at info@bsandi.co.uk or complete our online enquiry form.