Europe

Grandparents’ rights to see grandchildren if their parents split up

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Families come in all shapes and sizes, with some having parents who are married, and others involving parents who are separated or even divorced.

But it’s not just a child’s relationship with their parents that can change when relationship troubles strike – grandparents may also find themselves facing a tricky situation.

So what what rights do they have to visit their grandchildren if a child’s parents have split up or don’t live together anymore?

According to gov.uk, you do not have an automatic legal right to see your grandchild if a parent stops you from seeing them. There may however be steps you can take to get access. It should be noted, however, that the process is different for people in Scotland and Northern Ireland, and information about this can be found on the website on different pages. 

The website recommends trying to get help to see your grandchild through:

  • An informal, family-based arrangement with both parents
  • Mediation

If this does not work you can ask the court for permission to apply for a court order. You apply for permission on the same form as the court order application.

Mediation

An independent family mediator can help you and family members work out an agreement. They will organise a mediation information and assessment meeting (MIAM). This is designed to help families reach agreements following divorce or separation, including those involving children.

Apply for a court order

You must attend a meeting about mediation before you can apply to a court, unless you’re exempt (for example, because domestic violence is involved).

If you’ve been to a meeting and still want to apply for a court order, you need to:

  • Fill in the C100 application form
  • Send it to your nearest family court

The mediator who facilitated your mediation meeting must sign the court order to confirm you attended the meeting.

You will have to pay a £215 court fee, but you may be able to get help paying the fee.

What happens next

The court will decide whether or not you can spend time with the child and if so, what sort of contact would be in the child’s interest. For example, an order might state that you can only have contact by telephone or letters (indirect contact).

The order can decide:

  • Where a child lives
  • Who a child spends time with and when
  • What types of communication, such as face-to-face contact or phone calls, should take place between the child and someone named in the order

It is important to note that in every case, the court “will always make a decision based on what is in the child’s best interests.”

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