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Grandparents often form an important part of the family structure, providing parents with support, childcare and a helping hand when needed.

However, this relationship can become strained when parents go through a separation, leaving some in the difficult situation where they find themselves denied access to their family.

It may be a surprise to learn that under current law in the UK, grandparents do not have the automatic right to see their grandchildren and visits are up to the discretion of the parents.

However, while a parent is legally entitled to stop a grandparent from seeing their child, there are a number of steps that can be taken to try and rectify the situation.

 

Initiate contact

Grandparents should first attempt to make contact with the parents themselves, before getting any third parties involved.

Of course, this may prove difficult if the relationship is particularly strained or hostile, in which case it may be helpful to try and initiate contact over email or by writing a letter instead.

 

Mediation

If grandparents are not able, or don’t feel comfortable, to make contact on their own then they may find it useful to work with an independent family mediator.

However, mediation is voluntary so it is entirely possible that other family members may refuse to take part.

 

Court order

If an amicable solution can’t be found using other methods, grandparents may want to consider bringing an application to court, something they will need to gain permission for from a Judge.

Courts appreciate the positive influence grandparents can have on the lives on children and will always strive to find the best outcome for the child.

Once the case proceeds to court, the expectation will be to prove that it is in the child’s best interests for contact with them to continue and that they had a healthy relationship with the child prior to the disruption.

It is possible that parents may raise objections, so it is important to be prepared for this and any further hurdles this may produce.

While the process can seem daunting, there is support available and grandparents may also find it useful to instruct a solicitor to help them navigate the legal landscape.

 

Grandparents looking to learn more about their options can get more information or advice by contacting Rachel Smith, Family Law Solicitor at Mincoffs Solicitors, at rsmith@mincoffs.co.uk

 

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