As specialists in family law, Paul Crowley & Co are highly experienced in dealing with problems affecting grandparents who wish to see their beloved grandchild.
Do grandparents have legal rights to see their grandchildren?
Unfortunately, as a grandparent you have no automatic legal rights to see a grandchild in the event that your relationship with their parents breaks down.
To seek contact, it is recommended that an agreement is sought initially through the parents; however, they aren’t breaking the law if they refuse this. We understand that this isn’t always easy and any discussions with the parents should be constructive and realistic so as to ensure that your request for contact is in line with your grandchild’s welfare interests.
If contact cannot be agreed then you would have to attempt to mediate with the parents by attending an appointment with a trained Mediator. Mediation is something that must be attempted before you would be permitted to make an application in the Family Courts. There are certain exemptions that apply in respect of Mediation and information about this can be provided upon request.
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Should negotiations with the parents be unsuccessful your last option would be to consider pursuing an application for a Child Arrangements Order at Court.
Child Arrangements Order at Court
When making the application you would firstly have to seek leave of the court (i.e. permission to make the application). This process of requesting leave of the court is designed to act as filter in order to protect the child and the family from unnecessary intrusion.
If leave is granted then the application will be processed and listed before a District Judge or a bench of Magistrates in the Family Court for an initial hearing. There are likely to be several Court hearings during the case before the matter is resolved or an agreement is reached. You may be asked to prepare a statement during the proceedings.
The court will consider many issues, particularly the child’s welfare and safety, but they generally see the importance of maintaining relationships between children and grandparents, based on the condition that contact is kept regular and structured.
Should a Child Arrangements Order be made by the court, it is binding upon all parties until the child reaches a certain age or until further order of the court.
It is worth noting that this process can be complex, lengthy and often distressing for all parties, particularly if the child is old enough to understand the situation or to give a view with regard to contact.
If you have any questions relating to this process and to discuss bringing an application for a Child Arrangements Order before the court, please contact the friendly and knowledgeable team at Paul Crowley & Co.