Undoubtedly grandparents play a hugely important role in the lives of many children and so it often comes as a surprise to many grandparents to discover that they have no automatic rights to have contact with their grandchildren.
However, grandparents can apply to the court for parental rights and responsibilities and relative orders, such as a contact or residence order. The court will look at whether such an award is in the best interests of the children and will look carefully at the reasons why the parents felt it necessary not to allow contact in the first place.
The following are some of our most frequently asked questions when it comes to grandparents’ rights.
Grandparents do not automatically have any rights or responsibilities in relation to their grandchildren. At present, grandparents wishing to see their grandchildren must make an application to the court for a contact order, or a residence order if they believe their grandchildren should live with them.
In certain situations, the court will grant such an order – particularly where the grandparent plays an important role in the child’s life or where the grandparent plays an important role in linking the child with their wider family.
As is always the case, however, court should be a last resort and grandparents should seek to arrange contact and the like with their grandchildren through agreement with the parents.
As a grandparent, you do not automatically have any rights for contact with your grandchildren. The first step is to try and make arrangements directly with the child’s parents. If, however, you cannot reach an agreement with the child’s parents, then it may be necessary to raise an action in the Sheriff Court. The court will apply the same criteria as they would to an application from a parent – namely, they will focus on the welfare of the child and the child’s best interests.
The court will only make an order where it considers that it is better for the child that an order is made than that no order is made. Depending on how old (or how mature) the child is, the court may also take their views into account.
If such an order is made, and the parents do not adhere to it, then they may be found to be in contempt of court and could face a fine or imprisonment.
Contact a Solicitor for advice on your legal options for establishing contact with your grandchildren. Our Family Law team can also guide you through any legal processes, help with negotiations, draw up any legal agreement and support you if you decide to go to court.
At Thorntons Family Law, we offer an initial free no-obligation chat over the phone to outline your options and the possible costs.
Depending on your case and circumstances, the next step is to come into one of our local offices to meet a Family Law Solicitor about your case and the way forward.
Call us on 03330 430 150 for a chat or contact us to book an appointment.
We are always clear to clients about the potential costs of any option and offer a range of payment options. In some cases we can offer clients a fixed price package. If we cannot offer a fixed price service, we charge based on the time we spend on your case, including meetings, emails, phone calls and court representations. Depending on your case and circumstances, you may also need to cover outlays, such as court costs or payments to independent experts. We will set out our fees and likely extra costs for you at the start and keep you informed of any possible changes as your case progresses.
Please note we do not offer Legal Aid for this service.
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