In this article by Mark Williams, Associate within the family law team at Tozers Solicitors LLP, Mr Williams explains what rights Grandparents have to see their Grandchildren following the breakdown of family relations.
Recent statistics reveal that over half of over-55s in the UK provide some form of regular childcare support for their own children and one in five look after their grandchild twice a week.
A common question we hear is “what rights do I have to see my grandchild following my son/daughter’s divorce?” In fact, around 40% of Grandparents lose contact with their grandchildren when their parents separate. It is likely that a high proportion of this can be attributed in part to the lack of information surrounding their legal options.
What are my rights?
Unfortunately, Grandparents do not have automatic rights to see their grandchildren. If, however you are being denied access to your grandchildren, for example, their parents are separating then there are options available to you.
If you have attempted to discuss your issues with the children’s parent(s) but have been unsuccessful, your first port of call should be to contact a mediator.
We can discuss matters with you at a free initial consultation if you would prefer and make a referral to a local mediator.
The first mediation session is known as a “Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting” (MIAM).
Whilst legal aid is now not available in most family cases, there is still legal aid available for mediation and you will be assessed at the MIAM to see whether you are eligible for legal aid to assist with mediation.
If mediation either proves to be unsuccessful (this can be for a number of reasons) and you are still having trouble seeing your grandchildren, you may then wish to consider making an application to court for a Child Arrangements Order.
Strikingly, a recent report found that 7 Grandparents applied to the courts every day in 2013/14 regarding contact to their grandchildren.
As Grandparents, you do not have an automatic right to apply to the court for an order concerning your grandchildren. You need to apply for permission (leave) in the first instance. The courts will consider a number of factors including your relationship with the children and the nature of the application. There are some exceptions to this requirement to seek leave including:
- Where the child/children have lived with you for 3 years; and
- Where those with parental responsibility (the child’s mother, father, sometimes a step-parent or other guardian) agree to you applying.
If the court grants you permission you can then apply for a Child Arrangements Order. Depending on the facts of the case, one or both of the parents may object to you making such an application and you may then have to attend a hearing so that all parties can provide evidence to the judge.
This article was first published by Mark Williams. Mr Williams is an experienced family law solicitor at Tozers Solicitors LLP and deals with all aspects of family work including divorce and separation with particular expertise in dealing with cases involving children. Mark acts for the children, parents and other family members such as grandparents in Applications before the Court such as contact, residence and adoption.
To contact Mark call: 01626 207039 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Tozers Solicitors LLP is a leading firm of solicitors with offices in Exeter, Teignmouth and Newton Abbot.
This article was written by Solicitor at Tozers Solicitors LLP
Tozers Solicitors LLP is a leading firm of solicitors with offices in Exeter, Teignmouth and Newton Abbot. Contact: 01392 207020 / email@example.com