Seeking contact with grandchildren – your rights

Tragically many grandparents cannot see their grandchildren due to divorce, relationship breakdowns and family fallouts. When grandparents having such problems have tried everything they often come to us for legal advice. The first step we advise such clients to take is to write a letter to the person the child resides with asking if the parties can come to an agreement about child contact. The effectiveness of writing such a letter often surprises people.

Should the letter fail to achieve the desired result a referral for family mediation may be sought. Grandparents can seek such a referral themselves.

It may be the case that relations have broken down to the point that an agreement simply cannot be reached, in which case an application should be made to court. Whereas parents could directly apply for contact, grandparents must receive permission from the court before they can make an application for contact. Unless all parties involved give the grandparent involved permission to apply for contact or the child has lived with the grandparent for 3 of the 5 years preceding the application, the court will not grant permission.

The court must consider numerous factors when weighing up whether or not to grant permission. The relationship between grandparent and grandchild; the motivation behind the application; and the effects that greater contact may have on the child will be taken into account. Under the Children Act the court must take decisions in the best interests of the child including what is best for them physically, emotionally and educationally and what the child wants. It is also important to look at the child’s family history, age and gender and whether other guardians are capable of meeting the child’s needs themselves.

Courts may be strict in their enforcement of such orders; they are legally binding and should a parent ignore their terms they could face being compelled to do unpaid work or to undertake parenting sessions along with the grandparents. In very serious cases they could even be sent to prison or the children could be permanently moved (however the courts will always try to avoid these extreme actions).

Expert advice on grandparents’ access rights available on 01722 422300

Our family law solicitors understand the stress that a loss of contact with grandchildren can cause to grandparents and have the expertise and compassion needn’t to help. So for quality family law advice from solicitors you can trust: Call us on one of the following local numbers

SALISBURY [01722] 422300

AMESBURY [01980] 622992

ANDOVER [01264] 364433              

Or fill out the contact form below.

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