How a Grandparent Can Spend Time With Their Grandchildren
With the ever-increasing costs in childcare and the ongoing cost of living crisis, grandparents are anecdotally being relied on more and more to help look after their grandchildren, as well as them being able to see them generally.
For many grandparents, seeing their grandchildren can be a happy and positive experience, however for others it can be a challenging situation. There are many different reasons as to why a grandparent may not be able to see their grandchild, with one common scenario being that the grandchildren’s parents’ relationship with the grandparent has broken down if only as a result of either part of the family then siding on biological lines. In these situations, it can be exceedingly difficult as a grandparent to know what to do to see their grandchild, and to know whether they have any rights that allow them to see the grandchild at all.
Under the law of England and Wales there are no automatic rights for a grandparent to spend time with their grandchildren. It is therefore hoped that arrangements could still be made between the parents and the grandparents to see the grandchild, so that any relationship which has been developed during this time can be maintained. It is generally accepted that a grandparent plays a key role in the lives of their grandchild and therefore it is recommended that this relationship be maintained.
Should it not be possible for a grandparent to come to an agreement with the parent as to how they are to spend time with their grandchild, then it is encouraged that the grandparent and parent try to resolve their issues through mediation, as this is often felt to be a child focused way of trying to resolve the issue.
Mediation is a process where two parties negotiate with the guidance of an independent third party, the mediator. The role of the mediator is to facilitate any negotiations the two parties may have and ensures that any negotiations that occur are constructive and do not result in further conflict between the parties.
The Court require that mediation be attempted before an application is made to the Court in relation to a grandparent seeking to spend time with their grandchild.
The type of Order which a grandparent would seek from the Court to spend time with their grandchild is known as a Child Arrangements Order. This type of order regulates any form of arrangement a party may have with a child in respect of who the child shall live with, and who the child shall spend time with.
There are many different ways that, in these circumstances a grandchild, can spend time with their grandparents, including direct contact, which is physically spending time with the grandchild, indirect contact, which commonly refers to communication through letters, text messages, emails and phone/ video calls (Skype and Zoom), and through supervised contact. This is used when a grandparent spends time with the grandchild but with the supervision of a third party, such as a family member.
Generally speaking, grandparents do not have an automatic right to make an application for a Child Arrangements Order and therefore they must initially acquire the permission of the Court so that they can make this application.
Here at Clarke and Son Solicitors we can advise you on these circumstances and see which route of application you may need to apply through. Therefore, if you are having difficulties in respect of having contact with your grandchild, then please get in touch with our Family Law Department for specialist legal advice on 01255 320 555 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.