The area relating to grandparental rights to spend time with their grandchildren particularly when their parents have separated has long been a thorny issue to resolve; more so where the parents do not agree with the child seeing their grandparents.

This area was considered in a Bulgarian case decided under EU law Case 335/17 concerning the concepts of rights of access and concerned the grandmother’s rights of access to her grandson.   Judgment was delivered on 12th April 2018.

With regard to the Member States of the EU it was established that the Courts of the child’s habitual residence have jurisdiction (power) to decide such a matter. Such a case cannot be analysed independently of the fundamental issue: the primary importance of the best interest and welfare of the child enshrined in the Children Act 1989 as amended and the importance of maintaining contact with his or her grandparents provided this was not contrary to the child’s interest or welfare.

This is encompassed in Article 7 of The Charter “right to respect for his or her private and family life, home and communications and also Article 8 European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms.

It was also stated that contact between children and their grandparents was an essential source of stability for the children and an important contribution to the child’s personal identity.

It was recently announced that the Government would re-visit the Children Act 1989 with a view to amend this to include the automatic right for grandparents to apply to the Court for an order to see their grandchildren without the need for seeking the court’s permission to make the application beforehand.  So watch this space…………………

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If you have any queries in regards to family rights, then please contact our specialised family teams at our offices. We have teams in Boston, Grantham, Lincoln, Newark, Sleaford and Spalding.

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