The breakdown of a marriage or long term relationship is extremely upsetting for all involved. For grandparents it can be devastating if they are denied contact with their grandchildren. Unfortunately grandparents do not have an automatic right to contact with their grandchildren. Over the last few years the profile of grandparents has been raised tremendously by many national organisations and the courts have recognised the valuable and essential role that they play in a child’s life.
Family Solicitor, Andrew Stynes says, “If all approaches to the parents have failed, family mediation can be an effective tool to resolve contact issues. Mediation allows you to communicate with each other in the presence of a third party and hopefully reach decisions regarding contact with grandchildren.” Both sides must agree to mediation. If mediation is not an option it may be time to involve the court.
The only people who can apply to the courts for a Contact Order are those with parental responsibility, ie – parents, step-parents or guardians. However, even though grandparents’ rights are limited they can apply for permission to apply for a Contact Order. When considering any application the courts will take into account the following:
- The grandparent’s connection to the child
- The nature of the application for contact
- Whether the application may be potentially harmful to the child’s well-being
We strongly advise you to take legal advice if you find yourself in this situation.
We have offices in the Christchurch, New Milton and the New Forest. Our Family team also coverBournemouth and Poole. For a free initial chat, please call 01202 499255 and Andrew or a member of the team will be happy to discuss any questions that you may have.