Do Grandparents have Legal Rights?
What can grandparents do when they are denied access to their grandchildren? The Law does make it clear that it does not allow grandparents an automatic right to have contact and spend time with their grandchildren. Parents can choose whether they want their children’s grandparents to have contact with to them or not - which is the sad and harsh reality.
Are Grandparents important to children’s lives?
Children most often build a close bond relationship with their grandparents - as they grow up grandparents are often a instrumental part of many children's lives.
Grandparents can be important in developing children’s characteristics and who they become as a young adult, as children grow and know they are loved and that grandparents wish to spend time with them. This will provide a sense of stability, belonging and meaningfulness to a child's life.
Grandparents also offer support to grandchildren, providing someone to talk to for valuable guidance.
What Options are available to Grandparents
There are options available to Grandparents, so that they have access to the Grandchildren. The easiest options usually involve repairing the relationship between their adult children, as it is these broken-down relationships that are often the reason for parents preventing their children from seeing and spending time with their grandparents. Family mediation may prove to be helpful in this scenario.
Potential Court intervention
In line with the Court acknowledging the rights of grandparents and understanding the role, grandparents must play in the lives of their grandchildren, it is often rare that a court would refuse a grandparent access to their grandchildren unless the courts have a good reason and sufficient evidence as to why not to, such as evidence of abuse, violence, or neglect.
However, Grandparents' rights are limited, and it is only people with parental responsibility who can make an application for a Contact Order. Grandparents can, however, apply for permission to apply for a Contact Order, and the courts will consider the following factors:
The applicant’s connection with the child
The nature of the application for contact
Whether the application might be potentially harmful to the child’s well-being in any way.
When grandparents have successfully won permission to apply for a Contact Order, they then can go through the courts to gain access to their grandchildren. This does not automatically presume that a Grandparent’s application for a Child Arrangement Order will be successful.
In the hearing one or both parents may have objections and in this case. Grandparents are likely to have to attend a full hearing in which both parties can put forward their evidence.
Grandparents should receive legal advice at this stage as they will need to persuade the court that they have a close bonding relationship with their grandchildren, even if the Grandparents do not have a relationship with their own children, but still had a close bond with their Grandchildren.
The court will always consider the child or children's circumstances and must only make an order where they consider it better for the child than making no order at all.
The courts will also weigh up whether contact between grandchildren and grandparents could have a negative impact on the rest of the family relationships too.
Statute Law regarding Grandparents
As a grandparent has no automatic right whatsoever, this means that if an agreement cannot be reached, the only option is to apply to the Court and for a Child Arrangement Order - which grants permission to see your grandchildren.
At Seymours Solicitors, our Family Lawyer, Sunny Sidhu is a member of Resolution – First for Family Law and will help you resolve matters in a conciliatory way.
For more information visit the family pages of our website www.seymours-solicitors.co.uk or call the Family team for a 30-minute free no obligation telephone consultation on 01926 350031.