Do Grandparents have any rights during their children's divorce?
Posted on 13th February 2020
Children law Solicitors would always recommend that you contact the main care provider in a friendly, calm and non-judgemental way.
In one case, it was merely that the stress of the divorce and the practical issues that followed had gotten on top of the mother of the child. When the Grandparents offered their help and support, the mother of the child was all too happy to accept! That said, it can end up feeling like the proverbial “rock and hard place”: the approach mentioned could have resulted in their son feeling left out and alienated.
If you are worried that this could happen, then we would recommend an honest and open discussion with your son, that you are taking this approach for the good of the family, and merely trying to assist in a difficult time.
If contact between the grandparents and grandchild is allowed, then we would always recommend that a detailed record is kept, along with a record with regard to the communication which takes place with the child’s parent or parents. Whilst we all hope it never gets to that stage, such records can be incredibly helpful in the event of possible Court Proceedings.
In the case our family solicitors in Lancaster mentioned, if the daughter-in-law had not responded to the grandparents in such a positive way, then our next step would have been to suggest mediation. The Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting (MIAM) can help families co-operate in cases like these and this route can be less expensive and less traumatic than going to court.
In the unhappy event that neither of the above options work out, then the last resort would be for an application to the Family Court for a Child Arrangements Order (CAO) under Section 8 of the Children Act 1989.
As a grandparent you do not automatically have parental responsibility for your grandchild, so you will need permission from the Court to make an application. Before the Court will decide whether to hear your application they will consider the nature of your application, your connection with the child and whether or not there is any risk to the child. Once the Court has considered these points, if they are satisfied, they will hear your case in an attempt to resolve it.
Many grandparents are surprised to learn that in law they have no legal right to contact with their grandchildren. The decision will ultimately be based upon what the Court thinks is in the Child’s best interests.
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