Child Social Care

What are Grandparents Rights?

Children's Act 1989

Originally under the Children’s Act 1989 there was great emphasis placed on the rights of parents but as the cases have evolved, a greater emphasis has been placed on the role of grandparents and the wider family in a child’s upbringing.

The role of a grandparent, if available, is vital to a child’s upbringing.

Often during disputes over children, the grandparents can soon be forgotten. In some cases, a grandparent may lose contact altogether with their grandchild.

What are Grandparents rights?

Grandparents rights are usually discussed when contact and access to see grandchildren have been denied.

This tends to be a result of a breakdown in a relationship either between spouses or between the child’s parents and grandparents. Because of this breakdown, parents of the child may withhold contact and visitation to the grandparents.

At this point, grandparents may seek legal advice on whether they have rights to have contact with their grandchildren.

Do grandparents have rights to see their grandchildren?

Unfortunately, grandparents do not have automatic rights to have contact with their grandchild.

However, as a result of case law which has evolved from the Children’s Act 1989, Courts have recognised the importance of grandparents in a child’s life.

Therefore, with the leave of the Court, they are able to make an application for contact. The Courts will consider whether the grandparents have a valuable role to play in the upbringing of the child.

The Courts will also enquire into the past of the grandparents to see if there is a history of violence or abuse, deeming it unsafe for them to have contact. If necessary, an Order will be granted so that the grandparents can have contact with the children or for residence if needed.

Will applying to the Courts mean I get to see my grandchildren?

As mentioned previously, unfortunately, grandparents do not have an automatic right to see their grandchildren.

This means that the Courts will consider each case in a case-by-case situation. What decision the Courts make for you, may be different for someone else.

To make their judgement, the Courts will consider areas such as;

  • What previous contact grandparents had with their grandchildren
  • What value the grandparents brought to the grandchildren’s upbringing
  • Whether the grandparents have a history of violence and abuse

The Courts will also take into consideration the views of the parents in any case.

How can grandparents get access to see their grandchildren?

If a grandparent wishes to have access with their grandchild, this should initially be sought through an agreement with the parents or carers of the child. However, on occasion, it can prove difficult to reach such agreement if, for example, there are family conflicts.

Unlike parents, a grandparent would first have to seek the leave of the Court. If they are successful in this, they may apply to the Court for a Child Arrangements Order so that they are granted access to the child, providing it is within their best interests.

How Ringrose Law can help

Remember the child’s best interests are the most important thing to consider. The Court will only make a decision that is in the best interests of the child.

Often, we are asked by our clients, “What are Grandparents Rights?”. If you are a Grandparent or parent and want to talk to one of our team or find out more about the rights of grandparents, then please do not hesitate to contact us.

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    Costa KyriacouPartner & Head of Children Law
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    Laura HamiltonSolicitor, Children Law
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    01522 561020
    Sehrish HussainSolicitor - Children Law
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    01522 561031
    Charley CookTrainee Legal Executive, Children Law
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