Grandparents can easily be excluded from seeing their grandchildren. When relationships breakdown, it is often the wider family who suffer in not seeing the grandchildren. It is often a time of emotional distress and as a grandparent you are in a difficult position in how to re-establish links with the grandchildren. You may have become estranged from your grandchildren, and you wish to seek to re-establish contact.
It is often difficult to know how to start in attempting to re-establish contact, we are here to help.
What are Grandparents rights?
Sadly, grandparents do not have an automatic right to contact with their grandchildren. If contact has broken down, it is hoped that negotiations can rebuild contact but if not, an application would be needed to make an application to see your grandchildren under a court order. The importance of extended family in the child’s life has been established and such an application is rarely refused.
Mediation is where an independent person helps you to try and reach an agreement as to your contact with the grandchildren. If negotiations and mediation fail to reach an agreement, then an application to court for permission to apply to see your grandchild would be required. In any event, before an application to the court for a Child Arrangements Order, grandparents would have to attend a Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting (MIAM) unless there is an exemption.
A Child Arrangements Order
Grandparents must first apply for permission (“leave”) to apply for a Child Arrangements Order, and the court will consider each case on its own merits. Initially the court will need to decide if leave can be granted. The court will look at a number of factors including, the involvement of the grandparents in the children’s lived, the impact of the application upon the children’s wellbeing. It would be rare for leave to be refused.
Special Guardianship Order
A special Guardianship order grants the Special guardians (who can be family members) with enhanced parental responsibility.
If there are ongoing public Children act proceedings (Care proceedings), it is possible for the Local Authority to assist in the payment for your initial advice and for representation at court.
Grandparents rights after the death of a parent
Grandparents rights do not include an automatic right to care for their grandchildren upon the death of one or both parents. An application may be required to be made to court. Courts will consider what is in the best interests of the child and that can include placing the grandchildren with the Grandparents, especially when the alternative is foster care.
It is important that a guardian is nominated in the parents’ wills so that their wishes can be heard after their death. If a grandparent is named as a legal guardian of a child in the event of a parent’s death, they would expect the parents’ wishes to be upheld. If a dispute arises or if no guardian is nominated, the subject of guardianship and where the child should live, can be resolved by the courts.
What if my child has no contact, can I have contact as a Grandparent?
It is rare for a parent not to have contact with their child; this would only happen if there were serious concerns, such as placing the child at risk of harm. This does not prevent a Grandparent from making their own application to see their grandchildren.
I have a court order granting me contact but I am still being denied seeing my grandchildren
The court order can be enforced. This would mean applying to the court.