What Are My Legal Rights As A Grandparent?
Disputes often arise between parents and grandparents, therefore it is important to seek advice if you are worried about contact arrangements.
Grandparents do not automatically have the legal right to see their grandchildren. However, if a parent has stopped you from seeing your grandchild (known legally as having ‘contact’), then you can seek help from the Courts.
Many grandparents play an active role in their grandchildren’s lives. Yet there are times when family relationships deteriorate to such an extent that one (or both) parents don’t let you have any contact with your grandchildren. This is particularly common when the parents separate or divorce, but can also happen after family disputes and even a death.
If this has happened to you, then you might be wondering: as a grandparent, what rights do you have?
What rights do grandparents have?
Grandparents do not automatically have parental responsibility. This means you do not have any legal rights to see your grandchildren. Unless there’s a Court order in place, it is up to the parents to decide who their children see.
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What options are available?
When a parent wants to have more contact with their child, he/she must apply to Court for a Child Arrangements Order. However, the situation is a little different for grandparents. This is because grandparents don’t have parental responsibility, which means you must seek permission to apply for a Court order first. This may be the only option if one or both parents is preventing you from seeing your grandchild.
When you seek permission, the Court will consider the relationship between you and your grandchild, acknowledging the important role grandparents can play in a child’s life.
The Court will also consider:
- Why the application has been made
- Reasons why contact has stopped
- What impact an order would have on the child and family
- Whether the child is wanting contact with their grandparent (this will be dependent upon the child’s age)
The welfare of the child is the Court’s primary concern. Within any application, it will have to be demonstrated that an order would be beneficial for the child, and in their best interests to spend time with their grandparents.
What happens if the Court grants permission for my application?
If you are successful, you will then need to apply to the Court for a Child Arrangements Order, seeking an order for contact. If either one or both parents raise an objection to your application, you will have to attend a final hearing where all parties will give evidence. The Court will then make a ruling based on what it feels is in the child’s best interests.
I’m a parent – can I stop my parents seeing their grandchildren?
If you are a parent, and an application has been made by a grandparent, you are entitled to raise an objection. You will have the opportunity to attend a hearing and give evidence presenting why you dispute contact taking place. The Court will then assess what is in the child’s best interests.
Speak to our family law solicitors
Disputes often arise between parents and grandparents, therefore it is important to seek advice if you are worried about contact arrangements. Give one of our friendly team of child law solicitors a call for an initial free no-obligation appointment to discuss your circumstances.