What are the legal rights of grandparents in family law

What Are The Legal Rights Of Grandparents In Family Law?

While grandparents aren’t part of the nuclear family, they still play an important role in family life. This is especially the case for grandchildren, who have been shown to benefit significantly from being near their grandparents.

However, grandparents can often find themselves ostracised and cut out from the family, especially during a divorce or if there’s a conflict with the parents. 

In this guide, we’ll explain the different rights and options grandparents can use to see their grandchildren.

What are the legal rights of grandparents in family law

Do Grandparents Have Legal Rights To See Their Grandchildren?

Grandparents don’t have an automatic right to see their grandchildren in England and Wales. However, they can try to get access to their grandchildren through a child arrangement order. 

What Is A Child Arrangements Order?

A child arrangements order is a legal order that can determine who they spend time with, as well as when and how they interact with any person named in the order. The child’s welfare is the most important consideration whenever a child arrangement order is put in place. Other factors set out in the Children Act 1989 include:

  • The wishes and feelings of the child
  • The child’s physical, emotional and educational needs
  • The likely effect of change on the child
  • The child’s age, sex and background
  • Any harm that they’ve suffered or are at risk of suffering
  • How capable their parents are at meeting their needs

How Do Grandparents Apply For A Child Arrangements Order?

Grandparents don’t have any parental responsibility over their grandchildren, so they can’t automatically apply for court orders to see them.

However, grandparents are able to apply for permission to apply for a child arrangement order. In most cases, the court will give the grandparents permission to make an application for a child arrangement order. 

There is typically a hearing, at which the following factors are considered:

  • The nature of the application
  • The relationship between the grandparents and the grandchild
  • If contact between them would be harmful in any way to the child
  • If contact would negatively impact the rest of the family

To give themselves the greatest chances of success, grandparents can instruct a specialist family law solicitor to help show how the grandchild’s life would be enriched by contact with their grandparents.

What Can Grandparents Do To Maintain Contact With Their Grandchildren?

Like many court-based processes, applying for a child arrangement order as a grandparent can take some time. In the meantime, it’s important to maintain contact with the grandchild as much as possible. 

If face-to-face contact is proving difficult, then grandparents can try to contact their grandchildren through texting, telephone or video calls. Alternatively, they can write letters to remind the grandchild that they’re there and still care about them. 

It’s heartbreaking when grandparents are separated from their grandchildren. But if you’re crestfallen that you can no longer see your grandkids, then don’t give up just yet – there may still be hope to gain access through a child arrangement order.

DISCLOSURE – This is a collaborative post.

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