There’s no one quite like Grandma……

Some of us reach a certain age and very much look forward to being an active grandparent.  It must be extremely distressing to reach that point, and perhaps begin sharing your time with your new babes, only  to find that your son/daughter encounters relationship/marriage problems and the ‘ex’ restricts or disallows your contact with your grandchildren.  Its not fair on them or you………..can you do anything about it?   How can the law help you?

The first thing is to try a sensitive approach to the ‘ex’ – perhaps an offer of help with the children.  Sometimes, a gentle phone call or e-mail might be very welcome to a stressed person who’d like a bit of time to themselves.   If that approach doesn’t yield results, you could try Mediation.    You could contact one of the Mediation organisations locally who would offer you and the children’s parent/s a meeting to explain how Mediation can help and offer you a meeting.  If you still aren’t getting anywhere, see a Solicitor.  Have an Agreed Fee Meeting with one of us here and we can explain in straightforward terms your rights and the procedure to follow to be able to exercise those rights.  You might have no option but to apply to the Family Court for a Contact Order.

Essentially, only people with ‘parental responsibility’: parents, step-parents or guardians can make an application for a Contact Order as of right.  However, as grandparents do not usually have parental responsibility, what they can do is apply to the court for permission (‘leave’) to apply for a Contact Order.  Will they be granted permission to make the application?  The court will consider the following:

  • Your connection with the child.
  • The nature of the application for contact.
  • Whether the application might be potentially harmful to the child’s well-being in any way.

If you are successful, you can then apply for a Contact Order through the court to gain access to your grandchildren.  If one, or both parents raise objections you are likely to have to attend a full hearing in which all concerned can put forward their evidence. It is essential that you receive good legal advice at this stage because you will need to persuade the court that you have a meaningful and on-going relationship with your grandchildren, which significantly benefits their lives.

The court will always consider all the child’s circumstances and must only make an order where they consider it better for the child than making no order at all. For example, they might have to weigh up whether your continuing contact with the child might have a negative impact on the rest of the family relationships.  Fortune favours the bold:  it is only in extreme circumstance that a court will refuse access to grandchildren.  In my experience, most Judges and Magistrates (perhaps most being of a certain age themselves?) are very appreciative for the love, friendship and fun that grandparents provide.

If you would like any advice regarding the above, please contact our Family Department on 01206 577676 or email [email protected]


If you would like any advice from our Family department

Contact GoodyBurrett on 01206 577676 or email [email protected]