It is now commonplace for both parents to work and with childcare costs often being unaffordable, grandparents play an ever increasing role in the care of their grandchildren. As such, there can be extreme upset when relationships breakdown and the grandparents’ relationship is affected.
The family courts are seeing an increasing number of applications by grandparents following the divorce or separation of parents. The family court will acknowledge the pivotal role of grandparents on a child’s wellbeing especially when they have previously had meaningful relationships with them which have been restricted following a relationship breakdown.
Grandparents need to make an application under the same legal statute as parents, the Children Act 1989. Technically, a grandparent needs the Court’s permission before their application proceeds but this can be dealt with at the first court hearing. It is very unlikely that a genuinely motivated application would be refused. Once permission is granted, any application for a Child Arrangements Order will be dealt with in the same way, procedurally, as that of a parent. The Court will consider what is in the best interests of the child/children and any potential or alleged welfare or safeguarding concerns.
If a grandparent is seeking a more substantive Order than regular contact, such as for the child/children to live with them, it may be that a Special Guardianship Order is more appropriate. These cases are rare but ones that the family team at BPE have had significant experience of.
If you would like some legal advice on what to do as a grandparent seeking contact with their grandchild please do contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or 01242 248287.
These notes have been prepared for the purpose of an article only. They should not be regarded as a substitute for taking legal advice.