Grandparents Legal Rights and Expectations

MPs are giving increased criticism to the current Child Arrangements Programme, which gives no presumption of rights for Grandparents to see their Grandchildren in the event of the parent’s divorce.

This lack of automatic entitlement has become a contentious issue in certain cases where the children’s care has, up until divorce, been shared by a Grandparent. The importance of Grandparents in a child’s life has become much more significant in certain cases and it is argued that this should be reflected with a change to the current Laws.

Under the present programme, a Grandparent can apply to the Court for an Order to see a Grandchild but requires the permission of the Court for any such application to proceed. Such permission will be granted only if it can be shown that granting leave is in the best interests of the child. Even then, the Grandparent will face an uphill struggle if the parent with the main care of the child objects to their continued involvement.

The overriding objective of the Children’s Act is that the Court should make Orders that are in the “best interests of a child”. This takes into account all of the circumstances of the case, including what impact any Order would have on both parents and also the child.

Take, then, the example of dedicated Paternal Grandparents who, upon their child ending the marriage, struggle to negotiate to see their Grandchildren with the children’s main carer. Are they limited to only seeing their Grandchildren when their own child has care, or can they apply for care in their own right? The simple answer is yes—they can apply for a Child Arrangements Order in their own right, but the merit of such an application will be determined by how involved they have been with the children prior to divorce.

A change in the law to provide for an automatic right would certainly make the situation far simpler and transparent, but others would argue that it could open the floodgates to vexatious claims, which would further clog up an already overstretched and under-resourced Court system.

If you require assistance in court proceedings regarding your grandchildren, Astle Paterson can provide you with the expert representation you need. Get in touch on 01283 531366.

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