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Grandparents Rights

Grandparents' rights

If you have clicked on this link, the likelihood is that you are concerned about whether you are going to be able to continue seeing your grandchildren after your own child has divorced or separated from their partner. Maybe relationships are strained following an acrimonious split, or maybe things are fine for now, but have the potential to turn nasty later.

For a grandparent, it can feel like you are stuck in the middle when your son or daughter’s relationship ends, and sadly it can sometimes be the case that a lot of the emotion involved in a split can be projected onto you.

The bad news is that as grandparents, you do not have automatic rights to contact with your grandchildren.

The good news is that the Court is very conscious of the impact that grandparents have upon a child’s life, and it is very rare that contact is refused by the Court. It is only usually refused where there is evidence of neglect or abuse.

Unfortunately, a grandparent can’t just walk into Court and ask for contact with their grandchildren. The first step is to ask for leave (permission) from a judge to apply for a Child Arrangements Order, which is a legally binding and enforceable document that stipulates the nature of the contact awarded.

You would then go to Court and make an application as to why you should receive a Child Arrangements Order in your favour. The Court will take into consideration the following:

  • The applicant’s connection with the child.
  • The nature of the application for contact.
  • Whether the application might be potentially harmful to the child’s well-being in any way.

The Court will only make their decision based on the best interests of the child, and often follow something called the “No Order” principle – that is, they must make an order ONLY if it would be better for the child than making no order at all. They might therefore assess the effect that your involvement in the child’s life might have on the rest of the family relationships. There may well be sticking points and difficult issues that arise, which is why it is very important that you seek legal advice in this area.

At the end of these proceedings, the Court may do any of the following:

  • They may make no Order at all;
  • They may make an Order in favour of the opposing parent;
  • They may make an Order entirely in your favour; or
  • They may make an Order based upon a compromise.

The fourth option is the most common, and it may be the case that, for example, face to face contact is not permitted, but you are allowed to Skype your grandchildren, send them cards and presents on special occasions, and have telephone calls. Alternatively, you may be able to have face to face contact, but for a limited period of time in the week or at the weekend. These decisions often come about as a result of negotiation between the parties.

We at April King understand that going to Court is a scary prospect, especially where your family is concerned, and we believe it is not something you should have to face on your own. Our dedicated team will help you every step of the way, providing invaluable support and knowledge to ensure that you receive the best result possible.

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We have 42 offices throughout the UK and we can also offer home visits where this is more convenient. Call your nearest office today on 08700 120 130 or email to book an informal free first appointment where we can discuss your concerns and begin to seek a solution. We are on your side.

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