Tag Archive: Grandparent’s Rights

  1. Grandparent’s Rights – Family Law

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    Sadly, family disputes and breakdowns often result in grandparents becoming estranged from their grandchildren. This is distressing and can impact the emotional wellbeing of both the grandparents and their grandchildren.

    While there is a legal presumption that a child should live with a parent (most of whom automatically have ‘parental responsibility’), the same does not apply to grandparents. Not infrequently we see cases where Mum and Dad have separated acrimoniously and have stopped their children from seeing their ex-partner’s parents. However, the Family Courts recognise that the presence of a grandparent in the life of a child is, in most cases but not all, an important part of that child’s upbringing. Fortunately, estranged grandparents have several ways in which they can resume contact with their grandchildren.

    The first step would be to consider whether grandparents and parents can mediate, either through letters between solicitors or via formal mediation, to resolve the dispute in an amicable manner. Mediation requires parents and grandparents to meet with an independent, professional ‘mediator’ to discuss the issues and attempt to reduce conflict with a view to resuming contact. Successful mediation avoids the need for legal action. However, if mediation is unsuccessful, or indeed inappropriate in some circumstances, for example, where there has been a history of domestic violence between Mum and Dad, grandparents will need to apply to court to obtain an ‘order’ which gives them a legal right of access to their grandchildren. This should be a last resort as it can be costly and will undoubtedly increase the emotional turmoil. However, for some, court is the only reasonable option.

    In certain circumstances, grandparents will need to ask the court for permission to apply first. This is because they do not have an automatic right to contact. Before applying for permission, grandparents must obtain a ‘MIAM certificate’ from a mediator to show the court that they tried to resolve the issue through mediation but were unsuccessful. To find out more about mediators in your local area, you can search online, or ring your local firm of solicitors for advice.

    The primary aim of the court is to ensure the welfare of any child. The court will consider whether the grandparents’ contact is in the child’s best interest. If the grandparents played a significant role in the child’s life previously, the court is likely to favour an application for contact. Through this process, grandparents can obtain a ‘Child Arrangements Order’ stating what contact that they will have with their grandchildren. In some circumstances, where the children’s own parents can’t provide them with a safe and stable home, it is also possible for grandparents to apply for a ‘Live With’ order. The children will live with their grandparents, and they in turn will have all the parental rights and responsibilities as those of the children’s parents. This means that the grandparent can take decisions about the children’s schooling and healthcare without the children’s parents’ involvement.

    The most important thing to remember is that the child’s welfare is paramount.

    If you are looking for assistance in relation to grandparent’s rights or any other family matter, please do not hesitate to get in touch with the Family Team at Scott Richards.

    Please telephone the office on 01626 772441 or email law@scottrichards.co.uk.

    This article should not be treated as legal advice. Please contact us if you require legal assistance.

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