Grandparents rights to see their grandchildren

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Grandparents’ rights to see their grandchildren.

Recently, The Law Society highlighted the issue of grandparents not seeing their grandchildren and how family lawyers and the courts could help with this on their regular “Solicitor Chat” feature on Twitter.  This is a summary of what was discussed.

A relationship breakdown is the most common reason for grandparents not being able to see their grandchildren, but family lawyers can help you to find a solution.

Q1 – What rights to grandparents have in relation to their grandchildren?

Although grandparents do not have any automatic legal rights to see their grandchildren, they can apply for rights to see their grandchildren under the Children Act 1989.

Q2 - If a parent refuses to allow grandparents to see their grandchild, what steps can be taken to resolve this?

The first step should be to try and reach an informal arrangement with the parent to discuss why they have stopped contact. If one cannot be reached, then the next step is to suggest mediation where the parties can discuss the issues with a neutral third party to try and help them reach an agreement. If this isn’t successful, then the grandparents can ask the court for permission to apply for a child arrangements order, which will give them time with their grandchildren.

Q3 - How can mediation help disputes between parents and grandparents?

Mediation offers a forum to discuss and work through issues in a safe and neutral way. Family mediation involves a series of face-to-face discussions between the grandparents and the parents, which will be facilitated by a trained, impartial mediator.

Q4 - What does the court consider when considering an application from grandparents to see their grandchild?

The overriding consideration in family proceedings is the welfare of the child. The court will consider the grandparent’s connection with the child, the nature of the application for contact, whether the application might be potentially harmful to the child’s wellbeing and any other factors deemed relevant, including the wishes and feelings of the child if they are old enough to be considered (usually 11 onwards). So, it will look at the previous relationship between the grandparents and grandchild. If they've spent lots of time with them and have a strong bond it's more likely that an order will be made.

If you have any concerns and wish for legal advice, please contact our team of experienced family lawyers on Llandudno 874774 or Conwy 596596.