Grandparents are important too….

To most working mothers and fathers grandparents are a lifeline.  Whether it be the day your little one falls ill or a regular reliance on collecting the little one from school…..what better way than to have the support of their Grandparents?

Whilst millions of parents rely on keeping it in the family what happens if the parents’ relationship turns sour and they separate? The rise of family breakdowns in recent decades means that access rights for parents and grandparents have become a pressing issue.

What rights do the Grandparents have to maintain their relationship with their Grandchild?

In the run up to Grandparents Day on 1st October 2017 we thought we would dedicate this newsletter to those Grandparents who may suddenly be faced with the distressing circumstances of their son or daughter’s separation and wondering where they may stand. In a recent research statistics found that grandparents provide over 40% of childcare for parents who are at work or studying and over 70% of childcare at other times.

Firstly, your son or daughter may want to seek their own specialist advice in this area. If there is a dispute between them they may be able to resolve it with assistance and advice which in turn doesn’t affect you too much and without the need for you to then get further involved. From experience it is important that you try to keep a neutral stance to maintain relationships and provide support to the parties. You may be asked or invited to help with the handovers of the child between the parents for example.

If this isn’t a possibility then you need to consider your legal position very carefully.

Whilst Grandparents (and anyone without parental responsibility) do not have automatic legal rights, the Family Courts do recognise the invaluable role that grandparents have to play in the grandchildren’s lives and it is very rare that a court would refuse a grandparent contact unless there are specific safeguarding concerns for that child (such as evidence of violence or abuse).

A Grandparent is usually likely to be able to commence such an application for contact by way of a Child Arrangements Order to the Family Court by first applying for permission from the Court. Provided that the Court are satisfied that the connection to the child is substantial and the nature of your application is appropriate then you are likely to overcome this hurdle. The Court will then consider your application as a whole. The Court will always act in the best interests of the child involved.

Grandparents may also be faced with cases where their grandchildren are being threatened by local authorities with being fostered or taken into care. The same process would need to be undertaken to be able to be considered by the Local Authority as a carer for the children. At Browells we would be able to assist with all aspects.

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