Growing number of grandparents are seeking help and advice after being denied access to their grandchildren

There are many grandparents, who for a variety of reasons, are stopped from seeing their grandchildren and the effect of this can be devastating. Earlier this year the Justice Minister confirmed that last year there were seven applications a day by grandparents for a court order to see a grandchild after the divorce or separation of the child’s parents.

The lack of contact between grandparents and grandchildren may not necessarily be the grandparents fault, as the children’s parents may have gone through divorce, been involved in domestic violence, drugs, or imprisonment. One of the most difficult situations can be when grandparents who have previously been a major part of their grandchildren’s lives, are not allowed any contact if perhaps the son-in-law or daughter-in-law has a new partner or has moved away following separation. Figures reported by the BBC show that the Grandparents Association received more than 8,000 calls in 2014 from grandparents who had lost contact with their grandchildren.

Many grandparents may think that they cannot apply to the court as they do not have ‘parental responsibility’ for the child however, it is possible to apply to the court for a child arrangements order which sets out time to spend with grandchildren. The fact that a grandparent does not have parental responsibility for the grandchild simply means that they will have to first obtain the permission of the court to proceed with their application. As long as permission is given the application will be heard. In considering an application for permission to proceed the court will consider the factors set out in section 10 of the Children Act 1989, namely:

  1. The nature of the proposed application
  2. The applicant’s connection with the child
  3. Any risk there might be of the proposed application disrupting the child’s life to such an extent that he would be harmed by it; and
  4. Where the child is being looked after by a local authority –
    1. The authority’s plans for the child’s future; and
    2. The wishes and feelings of the child’s parents

This is a highly emotional area of family law for the entire family. Our specialist team can advise on applications about what time a child should spend with their grandparents. Consulting our specialist lawyers in our Altrincham or Manchester offices is a great first step. We can talk you through your options and help you to decide what is the best way to proceed. Please contact us on 0161 927 3118 for a free 20 minute consultation.