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Grandparents are often an important part of their grandchildren’s lives and vice versa, providing normality and calm during distressing periods.
However, grandparents do not have an automatic right to see their grandchildren and can lose touch with them when their parents separate.
If you are denied the opportunity to spend time with your grandchildren, you can apply for a Child Arrangements Order from the court. However, you will be expected to have tried to reach an agreement with the parents through mediation before applying.
You will need to seek the permission of the court to apply for a Child Arrangements Order unless:
While there is no presumption that you will receive permission, you should be able to satisfy the court that your application for contact has merit if you have both a blood relationship and an actual relationship with your grandchildren. It can be difficult to demonstrate an actual relationship to the court if your grandchildren are very young or you have not seen them for some time, so it is important that you do not delay making your application.
If permission to apply for a Child Arrangements Order is granted, the court will then determine the level of contact you are entitled to. The court has to consider the Welfare Checklist, which includes considering any risk of the application disrupting your grandchildren’s lives to such an extent that they would be harmed.
The courts do recognise the valuable contributions that grandparents make to children’s lives but must also take into account the adverse effect an application can have on children if there is hostility between the grandparents and the parent whom the children are living with.
The outcome of an application for a Child Arrangement Order can depend on the evidence presented to the court, so having experienced family lawyers to assist you may be hugely beneficial.
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