Research by a group of family-focused charities has highlighted that 40 percent of grandparents lose contact with their grandchildren as a result of divorce. It is very unfortunate that many grandparents who are very close to their grandchildren and play a large role in their lives lose contact with them as a result of circumstances that are not their fault.
This blog post looks at the ways in which you can ensure contact with your grandchildren is kept intact even after a breakdown in family relationships with the child’s parents.
Is there a legal right to contact with grandchildren?
Grandparents have no automatic right to contact with their grandchildren. However, the family courts know that usually consistent and regular contact with a grandparent can be greatly beneficial to a child’s life. It is rare for the courts not to allow a grandparent access to their grandchild unless there is evidence of abuse or violence.
How can I ensure contact?
Whilst court should be the final option in the event that contact is being denied to you, it is very important to act quickly and not to let too much time pass without seeing your grandchildren. If too much time elapses, the parents may argue that it would be disruptive and upsetting for the child for you to be granted contact and be reintroduced to their lives.
You should discuss the cost of a court action with a solicitor, you should also let the person denying you contact know that you intend to take court action – the threat of court action may be enough to convince them to come to some kind of agreement.
If possible, try to ensure good relations with the parents of your grandchild and ensure they understand your reasons for wanting contact. Also, if able and willing, you could be a valuable child-care resource to the parents, saving them a great deal of money. This could also help negotiate contact.
What is a contact order?
If you continue to be denied contact with your grandchild, you me be eligible for a Contact Order. A contact order outlines the agreed arrangements for contact which may be direct forms of communication such as visiting rights; and in-direct forms such as letters, videos, text, email and phone calls.
Grandparents must apply for leave to apply for a Contact Order. During the application the courts will consider: the applicant’s connection with the child; aspects relating to the nature of the application; whether the granting of the application could be harmful to the child in any way.
If the application is granted, you can apply for a Contact Order through the court. If objections are raised, a full hearing will take place such that every party can express their opinions and put forward evidence. The court will put the wellbeing of the child at the forefront of their decision-making.
If you are a grandparent looking to ensure contact with your grandchild, contact us today for advice and assistance.