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Yes or No: Do grandparents have rights? Family Law

Yes or No: Do grandparents have rights?

28/05/2015

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For most grandparents involvement in their grandchildren’s lives is a regular and enjoyable occurrence. But what happens when grandparents are denied access to their grandchildren due to family breakdowns following separation? Research shows that a staggering 42% of grandparents lose contact with their grandchildren when their parents separate and 8,000 have sought advice from national charities.

So what rights do they have to see their grandchildren when access is denied?

Legally, grandparents do not have an automatic right to see their grandchildren. If a parent wishes to stop access they are legitimately entitled to do so. However, this does not mean that grandparents just have to accept no contact. The first step to try and initiate contact should be talking directly to the parents. If the relationship is too hostile then writing or emailing may be more helpful. Additionally, it may be useful to use the services of a Family Mediator who can assist in negotiations regarding arrangements to see the children. Finally, if all options fail grandparents may be able to bring an application to court if they receive permission from a Judge.

Courts are very conscious of the positive impact that grandparents can have on a child’s life and for that reason the test for permission is not an onerous one. However, once at court the burden is on the grandparents to prove that prior to the contact stopping they had a healthy relationship with their grandchildren and it is in the best interests of the children for this to continue. There is of course the chance that the parents may raise objections which could cause further hurdles for the grandparents to deal with. However, more and more grandparents are seeking to rely on Courts services; in 2013/14 alone 2517 applications were made by grandparents for Child Arrangement Orders.

If you have any questions related to this article, or would like advice about divorce and financial matters, do not hesitate to contact one of our Family Law Solicitors. you can make an appointment at Mincoffs Solicitors by calling 0191 212 6151 or emailing ecannell@mincoffs.co.uk.

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