Grandparents Rights18th April 2019

The breakdown of a relationship can impact upon the wider family such as grandparents, aunts, uncles and other family members, who may miss out on seeing their grandchild, niece or nephew. This can be extremely upsetting for everyone, including the child and may be detrimental to those who have a close bond with their family members, especially grandparents.

As family law solicitors we often get asked by grandparents what their rights are when it comes to seeing their grandchildren. As it stands, grandparents do not have any specific ‘rights’ to see their grandchildren. This does not mean that grandparents cannot try to resolve any such issues however.

First of all, the parent may respond to communication from a solicitor and the arrangements for a grandparent to see their grandchild may be agreed. A referral to a mediator can be made. A mediator is an impartial person who meets with both parent(s) and grandparent(s) together to help discuss the issues and facilitate an agreement. A mediator does not give legal advice and cannot impose a decision upon anyone.

The collaborative family process can be used. The parent and grandparent instruct specially trained collaborative family lawyers and then the parent, grandparent and two collaborative lawyers all meet together to discuss the issues, receive legal advice together and work constructively and openly to reach an agreement together. To keep everyone focused on keeping it out of court an agreement is signed by everyone confirming an application to court will not be made during the process.

Lastly, if all other options fail, the grandparent can make an application for a child arrangements order at court to spend time with their grandchild. The grandparent will first have to seek the court’s permission to make the application. In any decision regarding a child the court’s paramount consideration is what is in the child’s best interest.

We advise grandparents and other family members in relation to spending time with their grandchild or other child relative. You can book an initial free appointment with a solicitor to discuss your options. Just call us on 0191 500 6989 and ask for a member of our family department.