Can I See My Grandchildren If Their Parents Divorce?
You may have been the doting grandparent for the last 5 years, but, there is, unfortunately, no automatic right to see your grandchild if their parents do not want you to see them. However, we did say, no ‘automatic’ right, so this is just the tip of the iceberg and in fact, today’s Family Courts understand that grandparents are an important part of any family, whether their parents are together or not.
How can I see my Grandchildren?
There are a few options open to you, which MG Legal, your Family Solicitor Longridge can explore and assist you with. The first option is simply reaching an agreement with one or both parents that you will be allowed to visit or take care of any children at certain times or days. Depending on circumstances, this may even be welcome as you may be able to take them to or from nursery or school, freeing the parents up for work or, in less amicable separations, you might be a buffer between the parents, minimising tension (which children do pick up on) during “handover” times, especially if one is later or earlier than agreed.
If an amicable, informal agreement is not possible, another option is to enter Family Mediation. MG Legal, your Family Solicitor Longridge can assist with this and facilitate the process as well as keeping all involved family members informed and reinforcing any agreement reached. This is not a Court process, but it can be conducted by the linked Mediation Service. There are also many private mediation firms who can assist. Mediators are trained to help people find common ground and areas of agreement. Agreements reached during mediation are not legally binding but can be later used in the Court process as a framework or base for future agreements.
Finally, if you cannot reach any kind of agreement to see your grandchildren, your last option would be to seek a Contact Order from the Court. If this was opposed by the parent(s) you would need to attend a Hearing in the Family Court and to give evidence as to why your seeing the grandchildren would be beneficial.
What factors do the Court consider?
In any matter involving children, the Court’s primary concern is the welfare of those children. It is not simply enough to show that you are a blood relation, the Court must consider what your connection is to each child and what sort of contact you are asking for, as well as any negative impact on the child’s welfare. Any solicitor specialising in family law will tell you that the court’s afford the child’s welfare paramount importance. One key factor is the history of your relationship with the child. If you saw them several times a week and played a key role in their routine or care, this will likely be more compelling for the Judge than if, say, you saw them only on birthdays and at Christmas.
You are, in effect, in the same position as a Claimant in a Civil Dispute, where it is for you to show that what you are asking for it warranted. The Court’s default position is to not grant the Order and so, it is for you to show that there is benefit, or that it will be an improvement, for all concerned, particularly the child, or children, in the Order being made.
The Court will consider if there is any impact on the other family relationships, for example if you are on particularly hostile terms with, say, your ex-son-in-law, will your being introduced into the equation mean a more negative environment for any children if, in the current situation, the parents are managing to keep matters at least civil.
How to obtain a Contact Order?
MG Legal, your Family Solicitor Longridge regularly apply for Contact Orders on behalf of parents, grandparents and other relatives. We appreciate that today’s world moves a lot faster, is a lot more flexible and families are not factory-built units with identical requirements and routines. Wherever possible, we try to provide services on a fixed-fee basis and wherever this is not possible, we will ensure that your quote is accurate and fair, so you know up-front the likely costs of the matter from the outset.
Whatever your requirement in Family & Children Law, Contact MG Legal by phone, email, web-contact form or at any of our offices in Lancaster, Garstang and Longridge. We will put you straight in touch with a member of our Family Team to ensure that we get your matter moving as swiftly as possible and so that you don’t miss any more moments with the younger members of your family.