Grandparents’ family rights
Dec 16, 2022
For all the happiness that the festive season brings, this time of year can be incredibly difficult for people and families. The pressures brought about by the current social and economic climate are a huge challenge. those may be in addition to problems within families that are causing or exacerbating rifts.
Sadly, one situation we’re often asked to help resolve is that of grandparents who have been cut off from their grandchildren. It’s an issue that intensifies at Christmas, as ‘children’ and ‘togetherness’ become the dominant themes.
So what can grandparents do if they’re being denied contact with their grandchildren?
Unfortunately, grandparents don’t have a legal right to spend time with their grandchildren. This means there are no particular protections they could call on to make contact happen however there are usually three routes to explore.
The first is a conversation with the parents. This needs to be thought out carefully in advance; judging the timing of the conversation, the tone, and what to say/avoid saying is key. All families are different, and the dynamics may or may not lend themselves to a productive conversation. As lawyers, we can help in the process, either in the background or (if it comes to it) in a negotiation.
Mediation is another option. It means having an independent third party help people reach an agreed outcome. This can be really effective if there’s willingness to talk, listen and cooperate in getting a solution.
Then there’s the court route. This option is rare for grandparents as they would have to be given leave to apply to the court for an order giving permission for contact with the grandchildren. A Judge would make a decision based on the children’s best interests – established by looking closely at their relationship with their grandparents.
Due to this, court is very rarely the place to begin. It takes time, it can be expensive and it can further damage relationships. So, in the interests of reaching an agreed outcome that allows everyone to remain on terms that are as good as possible, dialogue is important (in fact, people usually have to try mediation before applying to court).
This all has to be handled carefully. It’s why we always recommend talking to a family solicitor at the outset, to understand the law and if you have leave to apply, the process and how to approach things. This doesn’t tie you into taking a particular course of action; it’s our job as lawyers to help you get the best outcome, in the best way.
For advice about this, or any other family law issue, contact us on 01264 353411 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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