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What are Grandparents Rights?

At Banner Jones, we know that grandparents have a vital role to play in the upbringing of their grandchildren. When grandparents are denied access to their grandchildren, this can be heart-breaking. Unfortunately though, grandparents do not have an automatic right to have contact with their grandchildren.

The Family Courts do recognise that grandparents are an essential aspect of family life. It is in sporadic cases that the Court would deny access to grandchildren unless there are signs of any abuse or violence.

Is it possible for grandparents to apply to the Courts for access to see their grandchildren?

The law states that only people with parental responsibilities, such as parents, guardians or step-parents can apply for a child arrangements order for time with grandparents. However, grandparents can apply to the Courts to get "permission" for a child arrangements order for time with grandparents.

The Courts will consider the following:

  • The applicant's connection with the child
  • The reason for the application

Whether the application might be potentially harmful to the child's wellbeing.

If you are successful, you will be allowed to apply for a child arrangements order for time with grandparents. This is done through the Courts. Once successful, you will get access to your grandchildren.

However, if you are unsuccessful when either one or both parties refuse permission to apply for a child arrangements order for time with grandparents, you must attend a Full Court Hearing. Both parties will state their reasons for denying access. As a result, you must obtain excellent legal advice to represent your case. You and your legal advisor will have to persuade the Court that you have a positive, meaningful with your grandchildren and this will continue.

The Court must only give a child arrangements order for time with grandparents, if they consider the decision is better for the wellbeing of the grandchildren. The Court must also decide and weigh up that any continuous contact will have any negative impact on the rest of the family. However, it is in rare circumstances that the Court will deny access to grandchildren, such as any evidence of abuse or violence.

At Banner Jones, we know that families are precious. We've helped families in Sheffield, Dronfield, Mansfield, Chesterfield and Nottingham solve disputes politely and in a friendly manner.

If you need help with accessing your grandchildren, call our team of friendly and compassionate Family Law Solicitors on 0330 017 6304

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Who the child lives with

The way in which the court will approach where a child is to live , if parents cannot agree this,  is based upon a careful consideration of the child’s needs and what is in their best interests. It is rare for a court to separate siblings but if it is in the children’s best interests they will do so. The court now quite often make “joint” or “shared” orders with a residence element, so that in effect the child or children will have two homes. The court can even go as far as setting out specific periods of time where the child will live with each parent, such as in the school holidays or during school term time. It can be set out in general terms if the Court is confident that both parties can agree the detail between them.

A Child Arrangements Order with a “residence” element prevents:

  • Altering the name of the child or children;
  • Removing  the child or children from the UK (for more than 28 days);
  • Consenting to the child’s adoption without the agreement of everyone with Parental Responsibility.

when a child spends time with you both

This is what used to be the “contact” or “access” element and settles when a child spends time with someone, usually the parent they do not live with. It is not compulsory to have an order to spend time with your child. These arrangements are usually agreed by both parents. If you are experiencing issues or the person /parent who the child currently lives with is being difficult about facilitating time between you and your child and mediation has not worked or has been assessed as not appropriate, then you can apply for an order with a contact element.

Different forms of contact

The type of time spent maintaining contact with a child can take many forms, including:

  • Letters and emails
  • Telephone calls
  • Visiting time
  • Overnight stays

Where there is a concern over the level of care the adult wishing to spend time with a child can give, the Court may order a period of supervised time. This is where another adult is present to ensure that the child or children do not come to any harm.

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Kelly Parks
Kelly Parks
Head of Family Law
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