Grandparents’ Child Contact Rights
When a relationship breaks down, and children are involved, it’s rarely just the parents’ time with the children that needs to be resolved, with grandparents are often left wondering about their own contact rights in relation to their grandchildren (especially if they have enjoyed regular time with them before).
So what can you do if your grandchildren aren’t being made available to you?
Unfortunately, as the law currently stands, grandparents don’t have automatic legal rights to see their grandchildren. So if you’re a grandparent, your first step should be to try and reach an agreement with the children’s parents. Try to explain that you want to continue to be involved in your grandchildren’s lives; remaining as neutral as possible.
Whilst your own child might be supportive of you spending time with your grandchildren, agreement may not initially be reached with their ex-partner. Sometimes this can be a result of emotions running high between the parents and whether your child is having contact with their children. If this happens, then you might find it useful to speak with a solicitor who can write to the other party on your behalf to set out your position (with a view to agreeing the arrangements).
You may also wish to engage in Family Mediation where you can discuss arrangements for the children with their parents, assisted by a neutral third party.
If direct discussions or other forms of dispute resolution prove unsuccessful, you can issue an Application to the Court for a Child Arrangements Order (CAO) for the children to spend time with you.
However, unlike parents, grandparents don’t have an automatic right to apply for a CAO, unless certain criteria apply, and so you will need to seek the Court’s permission first. In deciding whether to grant permission the Court will look at various factors, including:
- The nature of the proposed application for the Section 8 Order
- The Applicant’s connection with the child
- Any risk there might be of the proposed application disrupting the child’s life to such an extent that they would be harmed by it
If permission is granted, the Court will then consider the substantive application and have regard to what is known as the Welfare Checklist.
For more information about your contact rights as a grandparent, or for a no obligation discussion with one of our family law solicitors, please contact us today.