Posted by The Family Law Company on 9th July 2012

Four out of ten grandparents will lose contact with their grandchildren upon the breakdown of the parents’ relationship. So as a grandparent is there anything that you can do to ensure that you maintain contact with your grandchildren?

As everybody knows, when a relationship breaks down it is often difficult for those involved not to take sides, particularly when it is your son or daughter’s relationship. This often then creates difficulties with regard to maintaining contact with your grandchildren, particularly when tensions are running so high. In these circumstances it just may not be possible to have constructive conversations amongst yourselves about contact with your grandchildren.

If this is the case then is there anything you can do?
Well just like when parents have a dispute regarding contact with their children they may attend mediation to try and reach an agreement, without having to take any matters to Court. This is a possibility for you as grandparents as well, whereby an independent mediator will try and help you reach an agreement with the parents to enable you to maintain contact with your children. However if these discussions break down what do you do next?

Unlike parents who can make an application to Court to have contact with their children, grandparents must first obtain permission from the courts prior to making any application for contact. To some this seems wrong given the fact that step parents have an automatic right to apply for contact without having to apply for permission. However despite several recent highly publicised campaigns to have this extra step for grandparents removed, it does currently remain.

So is this permission difficult to obtain?

Don’t be disheartened, this extra step of seeking permission should not discourage grandparents from pursuing contact with their grandchildren. It is not a significant hurdle to obtain permission from the Court, providing your application is of a genuine nature. As a grandparent you will need only to show that you have a meaningful and important connection with a child. If you have been a regular figure in your grandchild’s life and have had regular involvement with them then this will usually be relatively easy to demonstrate. Once this permission is obtained you are then able to make an application to the Court to have contact with your grandchildren, in the same way as a parent can.

The Court fully recognises the important role that grandparents play in children’s lives. Despite the extra hurdle grandparents currently face, it is hoped that you will not be discouraged from taking steps, if necessary, to ensure that you are able to maintain that nurturing and special relationship with your grandchildren. A relationship which is unlike any other.

If you would like to learn more about your rights as grandparents and the options open to you, why not attend our Grandparents’ Association Regional Conference.

The Family Law society accreditation in Advanced Family lawImage of The Law Society Accreditation of Children Law.
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