Grandparents: Know your rights.
As a grandparent, you can find yourself in a difficult position should your adult children go through a divorce or separation. You were the first port of call when support was needed, however you may now find yourself ostracized through no fault of your own when you still have so much to give.
Under the current law, grandparents do not have the automatic right to see their grandchildren which can seem very unfair, especially when you may have seen them regularly, maybe even daily or weekly.
It is vital that you take advice from a specialist family lawyer as early as possible so we can try to reinstate your time with your grandchildren quickly, rather than allowing a gap in your contact which can go against you in any future court application and can be detrimental to your grandchildren who would benefit from seeing you, particularly at what is often a difficult time in their lives.
We at Prince Evans can help. We will discuss the legal options open to you and can then contact your grandchildren’s main carer to re-establish that contact, explaining why this would be in your grandchildren’s best interests as this is the priority of the Court if any application is made for contact.
If direct contact is not possible, we can propose indirect contact (i.e. via letters, emails, telephone calls or video calls).
It is wise to keep a record of this contact in case you need to later evidence the level of your contact and involvement with your grandchild(ren).
If direct communication does not work, you could consider attending family mediation. We can advise you on the local mediators who specialise in this work.
In the first instance, you would attend a Mediation Information & Assessment Meeting (“MIAM”) alone. If the mediator decides that mediation is a suitable path for your matter, they will invite your grandchild(ren)’s parents to attend a MIAM. After speaking with them, the mediator will arrange joint mediation sessions with you, your child and their ex-partner to discuss and hopefully agree contact arrangements. Please note that you could alternatively attend shuttle mediation – meaning that you do not have to be in the same room as one another.
With the above said, you should note that you cannot force someone to attend mediation sessions and therefore if a parent is not engaging with you, mediation will not be possible.
Accordingly, if mediation is not feasible or discussions breakdown, the mediator will provide you with a certificate which you can use to apply to the court for a Child Arrangements Order (“CAO”).
Court proceedings should always be a last resort. However this is also something that we at Prince Evans can assist with advising you on the procedure, drafting the initial application and representing you at hearings.
Unlike a parent, you will typically be required to obtain leave of the court (permission) before applying for an order to regulate your contact with your grandchild(ren). When considering whether leave should be given, the court shall have particular regard to the nature of your proposed application,
your connection with the child(ren), any risk involved with your proposed application which could disrupt and harm the child’s life and, if the child is being looked after by a Local Authority, the Local Authority’s plans for the child’s future and the wishes and feelings of the child’s parents.
If leave is granted to you, you can then apply for a CAO. Thereafter, your grandchild(ren)’s welfare shall be the court’s paramount consideration when determining whether or not to make an order.
If you are a grandparent and you would like advice regarding regulating the time you spend with your grandchild(ren), Prince Evans can advise you on every aspect of your matter. To find out more, call us today for an initial consultation to speak to a family lawyer.
Written by: Senior Family Solicitor-Saba Ansari:-firstname.lastname@example.org – Tel: 020 8280 2710