Grandparents rights are not the same as parents rights. Unfortunately grandparents do not have an automatic right to have contact with their grandchildren. A family breakdown can have an adverse effect on your relationship with your grandchildren and you can be denied access following a divorce, separation or bereavement.
However, family courts do recognise the important role grandparents have to play in their grandchildren’s lives and it is very rare for a court to deny grandparents access unless there is evidence of abuse.
Grandparents cannot directly apply for a Contact Order to gain access to their grandchildren. You must first attempt mediation to come up with an agreement to see your grandchildren. If mediation is unsuccessful then you must seek permission to apply for a Contact Order. During this process the court will consider:
- Your connection with the children
- The nature of the application for contact
- Whether the application will potentially harm the children’s well-being in any way
If you are successful in your application, then you can apply to the court for a Contact Order to gain access to your grandchildren. If either parent raises any objections, it is likely you will have to attend a full court hearing where you will need to prove to the court you have a meaningful and on-going relationship with your grandchildren, which will significantly benefit their lives.
The court will consider the children’s circumstances and will make a decision based on what is best for the children.
Our experienced family solicitors can advise you through the application process and help you understand what the best course of action is for you.