As a grandparent, it can be very distressing if you are unable to see your grandchildren due to the breakdown of your own child’s relationship.
Sadly, it is not uncommon for grandparents to experience difficulties in maintaining a relationship with their grandchildren following the separation of the children’s parents, especially if the grandchildren do not live with their own child. It can be particularly difficult where the separation was acrimonious.
If you find yourself in this situation, there are some measures you can try to maintain contact with your grandchildren:
Agreeing contact directly
Spending time with your grandchildren is not dependent on your own child seeing the children, although it is usually easier and less stressful to arrange contact through your own child
If this is not possible, you should see whether you can agree arrangements directly with the other parent. If there is acrimony, it may be helpful to stress that you are not trying to interfere or take sides and that you simply want to maintain a relationship with your grandchildren.
If you are not able to reach an agreement yourselves you might want to consider mediation. This is a cost-effective, quick way for you and your grandchildren’s parents to attempt to resolve matters yourselves with the assistance of an impartial third party, without involving the courts.
Applying to the family court
If it is not possible to reach an agreement, it might be possible for apply to the court for an order that enables you to spend time with your grandchildren. Before making this application you will have to get permission from the court which is known as ‘leave to apply’. This is because, ordinarily, grandparents do not have parental responsibility for their grandchildren.
When considering whether to grant permission, the court assesses the role you play in your grandchildren’s lives and your motives for making the application. If permission is granted, which is more likely than not, the court will then consider the practicalities of making an order in your favour.
The most important factor for the court in considering whether to make the application is the welfare of the grandchildren. The good news is that contact orders for grandparents are becoming more common as the courts are increasingly recognising the importance of the extended family.
If you find yourself in this situation, you can seek legal advice from a family solicitor. They should consider your options with you and, if necessary, can assist you in reaching an agreement or making a court application.
Maintaining a good relationship with your grandchildren is important, both for you and them, and there is no reason for a separation to disrupt this family bond.
The Lester Aldridge family team deal with these and other issues on a regular basis and are frequently instructed by clients regarding divorce proceedings.
If you would like to discuss any aspect of separation, arrangements for your children or wish to protect your assets prior to getting married, contact the family team on 01202 786161 or email [email protected]