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Rights of Grandparents Following Separation

Reasons to choose Wilson Browne

Grandparents play an important role in the lives of their grandchildren and yet it is estimated more than a million children are denied contact with their grandparents in the UK.

It is not well known that grandparents do not have an automatic right to see their grandchildren. It is hardly surprising therefore, that many grandparents lose contact with their grandchildren in the event of an acrimonious break up between the parents. When faced with this situation, people often don’t know where to turn or feel that they do not have the funds obtain legal advice. Sometimes, people attempt to make an application themselves but struggle to navigate through the often complex court process.

The best case scenario is that arrangements are made for the children to continue to spend time with their grandparents after the break up of the parents on an amicable basis. In too many cases, this simply does not happen and there are numerous organisations across the country that aim to promote greater awareness of this issue.

It is sometimes possible to resolve such disputes through mediation and other forms of dispute resolution. Mediation may mean that costly legal proceedings can be avoided but ultimately, the assistance of the court should be sought if matters can not be resolved.

If matters do go to court, the application will be for a Child Arrangements Order (CAO) specifying the contact that will take place between grandparent and grandchild. Grandparents must make a separate application at the outset for permission to apply. When deciding whether to grant permission, the court will consider:

1. The applicant’s connection with the child.
2. The nature of the application.
3. Any risk of harm.

When making a CAO, the child’s welfare is always the court’s paramount consideration, taking into account the statutory welfare checklist contained in the Children Act 1989, specifically:

  • the wishes and feelings of the child concerned;
  • the child’s physical, emotional and educational needs;
  • the likely effect on the child if circumstances changed as a result of the court’s decision;
  • the child’s age, sex, background and any other characteristics that will be relevant to the court’s decision;
  • any harm the child has suffered or may be at risk of suffering;
  • the capability of the child’s parents (or other relevant people) in meeting the child’s needs; and
  • the powers available to the court.

No case is the same and some of these considerations will be more relevant than others depending on the circumstances. The court must also be satisfied that making a CAO is better for the child than not making an order at all.

If you are being prevented from seeing to your grandchildren, contact our team for a free initial discussion today. You are undoubtedly going to be able to put a better case forward with expert legal advice. We are recommended by the Legal 500 and have successfully represented many grandparents in this position. If costs are an issue, we can discuss options to suit most budgets.