What rights do grandparents have to see their grandchildren?
The government has been asked to consider proposals to change the current law surrounding grandparent’s legal rights in relation to seeing their grandchildren after a divorce or separation. They wish to create a legal presumption that grandparents should be able to see their grandchildren after the parents separate.
As it stands it is actually the children who have a right to a relationship with their parents and wider family members such as grandparents, as long as it is safe to do so and is in their best interests.
Under current children law, grandparents do not have an automatic right to see their grandchildren. If grandparents don’t have a good enough relationship with their children or the other parent in order to secure contact with their grandchildren after they separate or divorce, then they have to consider instructing a solicitor and potentially the Court to assist.
If arrangements cannot be made amicably then grandparents would have to make an application to Court for a child arrangements order to spend time with their grandchildren. This is a 2 step application seeking the Court’s permission to even make the application before it is then considered overall. This is different to a parent making an application to see their child as they don’t need the Court’s permission.
For the Court to grant a grandparent (or other wider family member like an aunt or uncle) the right to make an application to see their grandchild, they will consider the following factors:-
- Their connection with the child
- The nature of the application for contact
- Whether there is a risk that the application could disrupt the child’s life to the extent it causes them harm
If the Court grants the permission to make the application then the Court will apply the usual principles and factors when deciding whether it is in the child’s best interests to spend time with their grandchildren. This includes the overriding principle that the child’s welfare is paramount. The welfare checklist that is applied to an application for a child arrangements order can be found here.
For more advice and information in relation to grandparent’s rights, children law and child arrangements orders, please contact one of our Associate Solicitors, Kirsten Tomlinson 01625 544 650 or email Kirsten.Tomlinson@family-law.co.uk.
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