If you are a grandparent, what are your rights? Pearson Solicitors Family Law team are often contacted by grandparents who need advice, following a divorce or separation, in relation to their grandchildren.
Does a grandparent have a right to spend time with a grandchild?
Unfortunately there is no automatic right to spend time with your grandchild, however, the Court does recognise that grandparents play an important part in the lives of children and it would be rare that a court would refuse any contact between you and your grandchild.
Our specialist Family Law Solicitors can act on your behalf to try and reinstate regular contact with your grandchild, whether this is through negotiation, mediation or if necessary, by applying through the Courts for an order.
Applying for a Court Order
Sometimes it is necessary to go to the Court for contact with grandchildren, but not always. Before applying to the Court, alternatives to help try and improve the situation and re-establish contact would be discussed, such as writing to the parent with whom the child lives with proposals for contact, or referring your case to mediation.
If contact cannot be agreed then an application to the Court would be considered. You would have to apply for permission to make the application, as the Court must decide if your application would be harmful to your grandchild in any way, after looking at certain criteria. Provided it is not, permission should be granted so that the Court can consider what contact would be in your grandchild’s best interests.
It is important that you have legal advice at the start of any proceedings, to help you correctly apply to the Court and set out your case why contact is in the best interests of your grandchild and should be granted.
When a child lives with the grandparent
Sometimes a child will live with their grandparent(s). If this happens and it is going to be a permanent situation, you should consider an application to the Court to secure the placement. You will not have any parental rights for your grandchild unless an order is made, so you cannot make decisions as a carer. Also, having an order will provide you with the security of knowing that your grandchild will remain living with you.
There are two types of orders to consider; a Child Arrangements “live with” Order (previously known as residence order and before that, a custody order) or a Special Guardianship Order.
Child Arrangements Order
A Child Arrangements Order says that the child “lives” with you and you will have parental responsibility for the child for the duration of the order. You would share this parental responsibility with the child’s parents. The order may also provide that the child shall spend time with one or both parents.
Special Guardianship Order
A Special Guardianship Order gives you enhanced parental responsibility, which is sometimes necessary if you will need to exercise your parental responsibility over and above the parents, for example, if they have drug or alcohol problems which mean that they cannot work with you to make decisions for your grandchild. Also, with this type of order, the local authority must consider if you will require support, both practical and financial.
Our specialist Family Law Solicitors can discuss the two options with you at the initial stages and decide which is appropriate for you and then assist you in making the application to the Court.
If you're a Grandparent, we can help you with Independent Legal Advice
Call us and we'll advise how we can help you - call today on 0161 785 3500 and speak to one of our Family Law Solicitors