What grandparents need to know about their rights
Grandparents increasingly play an important role in the lives of their grandchildren. They help with school pickups and drops offs, care for their poorly grandchild if parents are unable to take time off work, and may even take their grandchild on holiday. But what happens when a child’s parents decide to separate?
The answer to the above question depends. If the parents separated on good terms, it may be possible to reach a family agreement, which still sees the grandparents continuing to take an active role in their grandchild’s life. If the parents’ separation is particularly acrimonious, then things might not be so straightforward.
As things stand, there is no automatic right for grandparents to spend time with their grandchild. However, if a grandparent is being refused contact, they can make an application to the Court.
In the majority of cases, grandparents will firstly need to seek permission of the Court to make such an application. When considering whether to grant permission, the court will consider 1:
1. The nature of the application
2. The grandparents’ connection to the child
3. Any risk of disruption to the child’s life
If the court does grant permission, the grandparents will then be able to proceed with an application for a Child Arrangements Order under Section 8 of the Children Act 1989. A successful application then allows grandparents to spend time with their grandchild.
Although there is no automatic right for grandparents, the refusal of contact is not something that has to be accepted without question. Action can be taken, helping children to have a relationship with their grandparents, regardless of their parents’ situation.