Under current UK legislation, grandparents do not have any rights regarding their grandchildren. This means grandparents can be denied access to their grandchildren following a divorce. MPs have called upon the government to protect the rights of grandparents to see their grandchildren following a divorce. However, it may be some time before we see grandparent’s rights protected by law.
How can grandparents get access to grandchildren following a divorce?
If you are being denied access to your grandchildren you will need to apply for a Contact Order to see them. Grandparents can’t automatically apply for a Contact Order. Only people with parental responsibility can apply for a Contact Order. People with parental responsibility include:
- Fathers, married to the mother at the time of birth or subsequently
- Fathers named on the birth certificate of children born after December 2003
- Legal guardians.
However, grandparents can apply for permission from the court to apply for a Contact Order. The court will consider:
- Your connection with the child
- The nature of the application
- Whether the application might potentially harm the child’s well-being in any way.
If you are successful, you can apply for a Contact Order through the court.
What is a Contact Order?
A Contact Order forces (by law) the person who the child lives with to allow contact with someone else. It sets out who can have contact with the child and how often. It regulates phone calls, visits, overnight stays, weekends and holidays.
If one, or both, parents raise objections to your Contact Order it is likely that you will have to attend a court hearing. Both parties will be able to put forward their evidence at the hearing.
It is essential that you get expert legal advice when applying for a Contact Order. You will need to demonstrate to the court that you have a meaningful, on-going relationship with your grandchildren. An experience solicitor will help you do this.
The court will always consider the child’s well-being first. It will only make an order if it considers it better for the child than making no order at all. It will weigh up whether your contact will have any negative impact on the child’s life.
Family courts do recognise the invaluable role grandparents have on their grandchildren’s lives. It is rare that the court will refuse a grandparent access to grandchildren and only in extreme circumstances, such as evidence of abuse or violence.
If you’ve been refused contact with your grandchildren, are considering a Contact Order or have any questions please contact us in London (West Drayton) on 01895 449288 or in Hertfordshire (St Albans) on 01727 840900 or by email via our contact page.