When going through the process of divorce, the effect on relationships between grandparents and grandchildren can often be overlooked. Whilst one would assume that grandparents have automatic rights of contact with their grandchildren, that it is not actually the case.
If a parent withholds contact between grandparents and grandchildren, the only way to have that contact reinstated is to first apply to the court for permission to pursue contact and then make the formal application for a Child Arrangements Order. This of course has significant financial implications and is beset with delay resulting in many of the older generation missing out on a meaningful relationship with their grandchildren or losing contact altogether.
Under new proposals being discussed by ministers, the law could be changed to establish a ‘presumption’ that grandparents should have access to their grandchildren after the children’s parents split up. The proposals would also extend to include aunts and uncles, nieces and nephews.
Dame Esther Rantzen, campaigner of grandparent’s rights, says ‘It is a relationship that matters so much and I have heard tragic stories of grandparents forced to try to prove there is a relationship. The law needs to recognise this relationship which means so much.
‘The French have got it right – they give children the legal right of access to their extended family, particularly grandparents, and they have got it the right way round. They must [deal with this].’
For further information and advice, please contact us. We will be happy to help.