Do You Have a Legal Right To See Your Grandchildren?

30/05/2019

If the Court decides that contact between you and your grandchild is in the child’s best interest, they may grant an Order (called a Child Arrangements Order) to this effect.  It is important to seek legal advice because you will need to convince the Court that you have a meaningful relationship with your grandchild, which significantly benefits their lives. 

Grandfather holding grandchild's hand.
Grandparents have no automatic legal right to see their grandchildren

In modern family life, grandparents are playing an increasingly important role in the lives of their grandchildren in comparison to generations before.  However, if the family breaks up, what happens to you?  If you have been denied contact or you are worried about losing contact with your grandchildren, we look at the options available to you and whether you have any legal rights to see your grandchildren.

Unfortunately, parental separation can have an adverse effect on grandparent’s relationships with their grandchildren.

Healing Rifts

If the parents are separating and you are anxious about losing contact, your first priority should be to make an effort to mend any hard feelings that exist between them and their growing children.  In most cases, parents keep their children away from their own parents due to unresolved conflicts that exist between the adults. 

Family breakdown can be enormously stressful and people deal with the pressures of separation in very different ways.  It is important to give the parents the space they need and it may be that the time spent apart from your grandchildren is only temporary.  However, if you feel that too much time has passed, or you have not got the reassurances that you were hoping for, speak to a solicitor.  A simple letter can be drafted on your behalf by a solicitor outlining why you feel that contact with your grandchildren is important.

Can Grandparents Apply For Legal Access To Their Grandchildren?

Only individuals who have parental responsibility, such as parents, step parents or guardians can apply to the Court for an Order.  However, when it comes to whether you as grandparents have an automatic legal right to see your grandchildren, the answer is sadly not.  Despite having limited rights, as a grandparent you can apply for leave (permission) to apply for an Order.  The Court will take the following factors into account:

  • Your relationship to your grandchild
  • The nature of your application
  • Whether the application could be potentially harmful to the wellbeing of your grandchild.

What Happens Once A Grandparent Has Been Granted Permission To Apply For A Child Arrangements Order?

If permission to apply for an Order is granted, the Court will have to decide if, when and how you will see your grandchild and will regulate your time with them.

You should speak to a solicitor specialising in family law before you make an application for a Court Order.  Court proceedings can be costly, however, and it certainly offers no guarantees – you should make sure that you have exhausted all other options before going down this route.

Often Court will involve an officer from the Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service (CAFCASS) to assess any welfare issues that need to be considered.  They will then compile a report to assist the Court in reaching a decision.

If the Court decides that contact between you and your grandchild is in the child’s best interest, they may grant an Order (called a Child Arrangements Order) to this effect.  It is important to seek legal advice because you will need to convince the Court that you have a meaningful relationship with your grandchild, which significantly benefits their lives. 

Next Steps: If you are a grandparent and you are worried about contact with your grandchildren, contact our family law department on 01277 221010.