If your son or daughter is getting divorced then, as a grandparent, it is a traumatic time. You may not agree with your child’s decision to separate from their husband or wife or get on with their new partner. You may not like how your child is being used as a pawn by their warring parents. This blog looks at what rights grandparents have in a divorce.
Grandparents and Children Law
Cheshire children law solicitors have seen a marked rise in enquiries from grandparents wanting to know about their right to see their grandchildren following the separation or divorce of their son or daughter.
Children solicitors put the rise in enquiries about grandparent rights down to:
- Grandparents having a better understanding that they do have some rights from organisations set up to help grandparents and from social media;
- Grandparents being actively involved in bringing up their grandchildren and not wanting to lose contact or their close bond with their grandchild because of a divorce;
- Newspaper reports about cases where grandparents have made successful applications to obtain family court orders to enable them to see their grandchildren and maintain their relationship with them.
Some grandparents and parents assume that there is a special ‘’grandparent application’’ that a grandparent cam make to secure access to their grandchild. Top Cheshire family law solicitors say that there is no special application available for grandparents.
If a relative of a child wants to see a child and the parent or parents object to contact then the relative (including grandparents) can make an application to the family court under the Children Act 1989.
Normally a grandparent wants an order that they can see their grandchildren on a regular basis. This type of family court order used to be called an access order or contact order. The terminology has changed and if a grandparent wants access to or contact with a grandchild they need to apply to court for permission to apply for a child arrangements order .
When a grandparent finds out that they need to ask the court for permission to apply for a child arrangements order, the court process can seem unnecessarily complicated and cumbersome. After all, a parent or anyone else with parental responsibility for a child does not need to first ask the court if they can apply for an order. However, specialist children solicitors say that grandparents should not be put off from making a court application for a child arrangements order just because they need to ask for permission to apply for an order.
Applying for Permission
If a grandparent has had a close relationship with a grandchild and they are being stopped from spending any time with their grandchild then generally the court will grant permission to make the court application for a child arrangements order.
Once permission has been granted to apply for a child arrangements order then the court application will proceed in exactly the same way as a parent applying for contact or an order to see their child.
Grandparents and Child Arrangements Orders
When a court is asked to make a child arrangements order it will look at whether or not the court thinks that the order being sought is in the child’s best interests, taking into account a range of factors known as the ‘’welfare checklist’’.
The court will undertake a similar exercise whether a parent, aunt, sibling or grandparent makes an application for a child arrangements order. However, courts do increasingly understand just how important a grandparent is in a child’s life and how vital it is for children to maintain a relationship with their extended family after a separation or divorce.
Author: Louise Halford
Louise Halford is the head of Evolve Family Law children law department. She has lots of experience of representing grandparents in children court cases. Louise offers pragmatic, constructive advice to help resolve family and children law disputes. If court proceedings are necessary, Louise provides tenacious representation and support.