Grandparents can often be collateral casualties from ongoing hostility between separated parents. Suddenly, barriers are put up preventing them from enjoying the close and loving relationship they and the children have been used to if the parent with care decides that he or she (unfortunately, usually a she) want a complete break not only from the ex-spouse but also the extended family.
Sometimes contact isn’t stopped altogether but just made really difficult to arrange, or severely limited. Disputes within a family can also cause the younger generation to punish the older generation by stopping contact with grandchildren.
Grandparents’ rights to access have existed under the Children Act 1989 for many decades. You have to satisfy the court that there is a strong connection with your grandchildren, but that is usually a hurdle easily overcome. Then you make an application for a Child Arrangements Order in the same way as a separated parent. The court will assume that it is beneficial for children to maintain contact with their grandparents unless there are strong reasons to the contrary.
Dame Esther Rantzen, who calls this situation “a living bereavement”, has been leading a campaign to amend the Children Act and create a presumption in favour of grandparents having contact, rather than having to jump through legal hoops to secure that right. This month Government Ministers have promised to consider such changes and also include other extended family members, such as uncles and aunts, when children’s parents separate or divorce.
As with all legislation this is likely to be a slow process but bear in mind if you know somebody with this problem, grandparental rights already exist. Consult your local family specialist for more information.
Thursday, May 17th, 2018 Children