Esther Rantzen is fortunate enough to have a brood of grandchildren and in August she welcomed the birth of twin granddaughters. Writing in the Daily Mail she has highlighted the plight of grandparents who are estranged from their grandchildren https://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-4838198/Loving-grannies-frozen-daughters-law.html.
As a children’s lawyer, I regularly help both parents and grandparents and so hear both sides of the story, from either the parent or grandparent perspective depending on who is instructing me. No one story is the same but whether the story is told by a parent or grandparent it is always heart rendering to think that, for whatever reason good or bad, that a child is not able to develop a relationship with his or her grandparent.
I always feel for estranged grandparents during the long summer school holiday when you see lots of grandparents out and about with their grandchildren or together on family holidays. In many cases lack of contact is down to grandparents being cut out of lives after a divorce. Often, prior to the divorce, the grandparents were providing a lot of the childcare and so it is all the harder for them and the grandchild to come to terms with the estrangement.
Many situations of grandparent alienation occur after a parental separation and cases of estrangement could be reduced if families were able to communicate better in the aftermath of a divorce. That is really hard to do so as often the inclination is to take sides on behalf of a son or daughter or grandparents are wrongly thought to do so by their in-law by the grandparent offering their son or daughter an ear to listen to or temporary accommodation in the spare room.
Family mediation can be a good option to help both parents and extended family communicate. If mediation doesn’t work then Court proceedings can be started by grandparents and although, as reported in the article by Esther Rantzen, grandparents don’t have automatic rights Courts look at what is in a child’s best interests and so normally consider, unless there is a good reason to the contrary, that children should have a relationship with their extended family.
For advice on any aspect of children law please contact me on 01625 728012 or send me an email to [email protected]