OTS Solicitors and grandparent rights
To speak to children law solicitor, Angelique Holm, or to a member of the London based OTS Solicitors children law team about grandparent rights call us on 0203 959 9123 for a discussion about how we can help you. Alternatively contact us through our online enquiry form.
OTS Solicitors know that it is hard to acknowledge that you are not seeing your grandchildren. Our sympathetic and friendly children law solicitors can talk to you about your rights as a grandparent and the best options for you. All our children law solicitors are committed to resolving family and children law matters in as non-confrontational manner as possible to not further increase tensions and disputes within your family.
For accessible, expert legal advice on grandparent rights to help you find a solution that bests works for you and your family call us on 0203 959 9123.
Grandparent contact can stop for many reasons. Sometimes it can be down to geography if grandparents are based overseas or if a grandchild has moved abroad with a parent after a separation or divorce. In other families grandparent contact can stop because:
An in-law does not want to maintain grandparent contact after a bereavement or a separation, possibly after they have formed a new relationship or have remarried;
A separating parent wants to punish the grandparent because they believe the grandparent took their child’s side during the separation or divorce;
Parents choose to move away, either because of a new job or after a separation or divorce, and will not make time for grandparent contact;
A son or daughter-in-law does not want contact with extended family, including grandparent.
Whatever the reason you, as a grandparent, are being excluded fully or partially from the role of grandparent in your grandchildren’s lives it is extremely painful. Most grandparents do not know what to do or where to turn when they find themselves excluded from their grandchildren’s upbringing.
The grandparent role
Not everyone recognises the special role that a grandparent plays in a child’s life.
However, the family court will look at the importance of maintaining family ties and has an appreciation of how a grandparent can often act as an unpaid child carer, a source of comfort and fun for a grandchild and, in some family situations, provide a link to the child’s cultural background and heritage.
Children law in England and Wales does not give a grandparent the legal right to see their grandchildren or the automatic right to apply for a court order so that they can have contact with their grandchildren.
Campaigners, such as Dame Esther Rantzen, are calling for a change in children law. In the meantime what legal rights do grandparents have?
A grandparent can apply to the family court for:
Permission of the family court to apply for a court order under the Children Act 1989;
If successful in obtaining permission to apply for a court order, a grandparent can apply for a child arrangements order. A child arrangements order settles with whom a child should have contact. An application for a child arrangements order can be made by a grandparent as a stand-alone application and can be made even if the child’s parents are not separated or divorced.
Children law solicitors are asked what sort of contact the court will order if a grandparent successfully applies for permission to apply for a child arrangements order. That is a difficult question for a children law solicitor to answer without knowing more about family dynamics and the family situation, such as:
Whether, prior to any parental separation, the grandparents played a pivotal role in childcare;
Whether the parents are sharing the care of the children and, if so, whether the parent is offering contact to the grandparents during his or her parenting time with the children. This may not be feasible if the parent has moved away with work or other commitments or the grandparents have suffered a bereavement and the loss of a son or daughter.
The exact nature of contact between grandparent and grandchildren will depend on family circumstances but could include telephone and skype contact if members of the family live overseas or a long distance from one another. In other family situations, grandparent contact can be ordered to take place weekly, fortnightly or monthly or an order can cater for special occasions such as seeing a grandchildren on a ruby wedding anniversary celebration.
Grandparent application for a child arrangements order
When a grandparent applies for court permission to apply for a child arrangements order the court considers:
The connection with the child (how close the grandparents are to their grandchildren); and
The nature of the application for contact; and
Whether a court application could be potentially harmful to the child's well-being.
Although applying for permission to apply for a child arrangements order seems a big obstacle to securing a contact order and seeing your grandchildren, with the assistance of a specialist children solicitor, the application can be straight forward.
Once a grandparent secures permission to apply for a child arrangements order the court will go onto decide if a grandparent child arrangements order is in the child’s best interests. The court will do this by considering a range of factors, known as the welfare checklist.
OTS Solicitors and grandparent rights
Taking specialist legal advice on grandparent rights helps families understand their options and the best means of securing contact with grandchildren.