Grandparents are more often than not called on as carers for their grandchildren when the parents go out to work or have other engagements. As a result grandparents develop and share important bonds with their grandchildren.
When a parent’s marriage or relationship breaks down grandparents often fall victim of that separation. With no automatic legal right to spend time with their grandchildren, grandparents can find themselves in a difficult position.
Grandparents should not despair as there can be a way forward. If grandparents find that they are being prevented from maintaining a relationship with their grandchildren they should first try and discuss it with the parents.
If arrangements cannot be agreed then sometimes a carefully worded letter from a solicitor can do the trick. A solicitor can also refer grandparents to Mediation, where the parties can meet before a trained mediator who will encourage an agreement.
The last resort is an application to the Court. Family Courts do recognise the invaluable role that grandparents play in their grandchildren’s lives. The grandparents must apply for leave of the Court to bring an application for a Child Arrangements Order that the grandchild will spend time with them. If leave is granted then an application can be considered and if appropriate a detailed Order can be made.
The Court’s paramount concern will be whether it is in the best interests of the grandchildren to spend time with their grandparents. Any child of course has a right to a relationship with his extended maternal and paternal family. If there has been a previous, meaningful relationship between a grandchild and a grandparent there is an argument that it should continue if it benefits the grandchild.
If you require legal advice or assistance in relation to these matters then do not hesitate to contact our Family Team on 0845 050 1958 or email us. Alternatively call in at one of our Family Law Clinics held on Thursdays between 4.30 and 6.30 each week at our Blackburn and Burnley offices.