What rights do I have as a grandparent?
This question is often asked and the situation is not as straightforward as you may think. For example, grandparents do not have an automatic right to see their grandchildren.
Understandably, however, the Courts recognise that grandparents can play an invaluable role in supporting their grandchildren as they grow up.
If for whatever reason, you are not having contact with your grandchildren, attempts can be made to broker a settlement between you and the parent(s) of your grandchildren.
It might be that you decide that you consider mediation which is a service whereby a trained mediator helps you to reach an agreement through facilitating discussions. This is recommended as a first port of call as it is cost effective and also helps to preserves relationships at a very emotional time.
If mediation or some form of dispute resolution is not successful, you are able to apply to Court. However, only people with Parental Responsibility can make an application to the Court. Parental Responsibility outlines the legal responsibilities that a parent has for a child.
Grandparents do not automatically have Parental Responsibility and therefore in order to proceed with a court application, they would first have to apply for permission to make such an application. It is unlikely that this will be withheld (unless there is a good reason) and as such, it is usually a straightforward procedure. If successful, an application to determine if you can see your grandchildren (and when) can be made.
When considering such an application, what does the court look for? In summary, the Court’s key concern is the welfare of your grandchildren. This is paramount. In order to reach a decision, they will consider the following (this is not exhaustive):Your links with your grandchildrenWhy you have not had contact or why it has broken downWhether such an application could be harmful to your grandchildrenYour motivations for seeking contact
Every case is different. It might be that an agreement can be reached and this will limit the number of hearings involved. Alternatively, it might be disputed which would result in a number of hearings culminating in a Final Hearing where evidence would be given and the Judge would make a final decision.
For tailored advice, please do not hesitate to contact one of the members of the Family team who would be happy to help. We have offices in Basingstoke, Bitterne, Bracknell, Chandler’s Ford, Hedge End, Lymington, Southampton and Winchester.
We offer an initial fixed fee interview for £100 including VAT. For more information, please contact Catherine Day, Senior Solicitor, on 01590 647670 or at email@example.com