Family Law: Grandparents’ Rights
By Kelsey Faulkner
When relationships between parents break down, it can often mean that both maternal and paternal grandparents are afforded less time with their grandchildren.
Unfortunately, grandparents do not have an automatic right, legally speaking, to see their grandchildren. However, the Courts are likely to allow applications made by grandparents who are not being afforded a relationship with their grandchild. Before any application is made, grandparents will have to attempt mediation with the child’s respective parents, in an attempt to resolve the matter outside of the Court arena.
Failing that, a grandparent can make an application for a Child Arrangements Order, which will decide who the child shall spend time with and when.
The following factors will be assessed by the Court in considering an application made for a Child Arrangements Order by a grandparent:
- The involvement of the grandparent(s) in the child’s life,
- The views of the child’s parents,
- Whether the application may be harmful to the child.
To make an order, the Court must be satisfied that it is in the best interests of the child, comparatively to making no order at all.
If you need help to obtain contact with your grandchildren which is being prevented by their parents, please telephone our team of experts who would be happy to assist you.
When the Local Authority issue care proceedings in respect of a child, it is possible for their grandparents to be appointed as a Special Guardian to enable them to care for the child on a long-term basis.
A Special Guardianship Order provides the guardian with parental responsibility, which can be used without consulting the child’s parents.
During care proceedings, a grandparent may put themselves forward as a Special Guardian to care for their grandchild. The Local Authority would then undertake an assessment to determine whether they are suitable.
Sometimes, the Local Authority may assess a grandparent negatively. It is important to be aware that this decision may be incorrect, and that you may be able to obtain legal aid funding to receive advice from a solicitor as to whether your negative assessment may be successfully challenged.
Please remember that whether you are a grandparent, family member or even a close friend who may be considered as a suitable carer for the child, then you may well be given permission to be made a party to care proceedings. If you need advice regarding these issues or would like to receive a legal aid eligibility assessment, please contact our family law team.