When parents separate, grandparents' contact with their grandchildren is often forgotten about. As new arrangements are made and new family set-ups established, grandparents often fall by the wayside.
Contact with grandchildren
Contact can be lost when a parent moves away or if the parents' breakup was particularly bitter. This denies both the grandparent the joy of watching the children grow up and means children miss out on the valuable time they can spend with their grandparents.
Ideally, it will always be best for the parents and grandparents to reach an agreement about continuing their relationship with the children. The parents may be assured to know that grandparents can be there as a stable part of the childrens lives once their parents have separated.
However, it is frequently the case that the relationship has broken down to such an extent that this is not practical or even possible.
In those circumstances you may want to consider attending mediation. Mediation is an option whereby an independent mediator will try and help you reach an agreement with the parents. Swain & Co Solicitors can offer you our mediation service where we can arrange for you and the parent to meet and discuss the practicalities of contact for the future.
Applying for contract through the courts
If an agreement cannot be reached, it may be necessary to make an application through the courts. Family courts do recognise and will promote the invaluable role that grandparents have to play in their grandchildren’s lives. Unlike parents, a grandparent does not have an automatic right to apply for a contact order and will have to ask the court for permission to make that application. In order to be successful the grandparent must show that they have a meaningful and important connection with the child.
If the court feel that your application should proceed, then the court will consider what level of contact should take place. This will vary on a case by case basis and our family team at Swain & Co Solicitors will take you through the application step by step and advise you all the way.
It is important that when there are problems, legal advice is sought about the options available. Early advice will allow you to understand your options and to act in an appropriate way so as not to unsettle what could be a very delicate situation. We will always try and help you reach an amicable resolution and court action is always a last resort.
Swain & Co's family department have extensive experience in representing grandparents seeking contact with their grandchildren.
For more specific advice on grandparent’s rights, do not hesitate to contact the Family Law team at Swain & Co Solicitors on 023 92492967.