Grandparent Rights to See Grandchildren after Divorce
Unfortunately, as a grandparent in England or Wales, you do not have any automatic legal rights to see your grandchildren if a parent prevents you from seeing them.
Family Courts do, however, recognise the priceless role that a grandparent has to play and it is unlikely that a Court will refuse contact unless it is satisfied that the contact is not in the best interests of the children.
There are steps you can take to spend time with your grandchildren. These are:
- Informal, family based arrangements
- Family Mediation
- Apply to the Family Court for a Child Arrangement Order (formerly known as a Contact Order) to spend time with the grandchildren.
For initial advice get in touch with our Family and Child Law Solicitors.
Even with the best intentions and the children’s best interests at heart, if an informal family-based agreement is not possible, an independent family mediator can help you and family members work out an agreement.
A mediator will organise a Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting (MIAM). This is designed to find a suitable agreement following separation or divorce and this includes cases where children are involved.
Mediation is not always suitable and various exemptions apply. It is therefore important to take advice in relation to this prior to making your application to mediation.
Applying to the Family Court for a Child Arrangement Order
Only people who have Parental Responsibility for a child i.e. parent’s, step-parents or guardians, can automatically apply for a Child Arrangement Order (formerly known as a Contact Order).
Before applying to the Family Court, you should exhaust all other options, meaning you should only consider this next step if all attempts at Mediation have failed.
If you’re choosing to go down this route, you’ll need to know that the Court will consider:
- Your connection with the child
- The nature of your application for contact with the child
- Whether your contact will have a harmful effect on the child’s wellbeing in any way
The parents might still object to this, meaning you will have to attend a full hearing where both parties will have to put forward strong evidence to support their cases.
It’s really important that you have expert legal advice, so by speaking to one of our Family and Child Law Solicitors you can be advised on how to gather evidence and build a strong case.
You’ll need a strong case too. The Court will expect you to persuade them that you have a meaningful and ongoing relationship with your grandchildren. They’ll need to be convinced that your relationship will significantly benefit them.
With contact being such a sensitive issue, the Court will always put the child first and the Court will consider:
- The child’s circumstances
- Whether the making of an order is better for the child than making no Order at all
- Whether your continuing contact with the child will have a negative impact on the rest of the family relationships
How to Apply for a Child Arrangement Order
If you want to apply for a Child Arrangement Order, one of our Family Lawyers can do this for you, or you’ll need to download and complete the C100 application form which can be found on the gov.uk website.
Once done, send it through to the nearest Family Court. There’ll be a £215 fee and if you do not have any exemption for attending mediation, your Family Mediator must confirm that you attended mediation meetings and attempted to find a resolution before applying to the Courts.
What Happens Next?
- The Child Arrangements Order will decide:
- Where the child lives
- Who a child spends time with and when
- What types of communication should take place between the child and someone named in the Order, this could include face-to-face contact, telephone calls, emails, social media and text messages.
Our Family and Child Law Solicitors specialise in representing grandparents involved in contact with grandchildren disputes particularly following the parent’s separation. Members of our team are accredited by the Law Society for both Family Law and Children Law matters.
We understand how important it is to keep in contact and spend time with your grandchildren, and we’ll be very happy to help you achieve this.
For initial advice call our Family Law & Divorce Solicitors
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