When a relationship breaks down, it is a difficult time for everyone, but the needs of the children should come first. Parents need to decide where the child or children should live and what contact the other parent should have. Such decisions are often difficult, provoking arguments and tension. There are other parties who might want to be involved, such as grandparents or step parents or same sex co-parents, in the day to day care of the children and this can make the matter even more complex.
You should seek legal advice from a specialist Family & Child Law Solicitor about such matters and at Paul J Watson Solicitor, you can be sure that we take your rights very seriously. We will advise you as the grandparent every step of the way, whether mediation or court proceedings should be your chosen route. Whether your problem involves contact, residence, or other child arrangements issues, our Child Law Solicitors can advise and assist you.
Paul J Watson Solicitor can offer you sympathetic, constructive advice at this difficult time. Our Specialist Child Law Solicitors have extensive experience in dealing with cases of this type, so you can be sure that we can provide you with the knowledge and support that you need to resolve your case.
Our Family Team are all members of Resolution, and we therefore encourage settlement of cases in a non-confrontational way where at all possible. That does not mean that we will not fight your case in court if this is needed.
Following the Government’s cuts to Legal Aid, we also offer competitive fees in Child Law Applications, including Grandparents’ Rights. We charge an hourly rate of £175 plus VAT for the work of a fully qualified Solicitor with 7 years’ experience. Free initial consultations over the telephone are offered by our Solicitor, who will be able to assess your case and provide a fee estimate. We also offer fixed fees for attending court with you.
You can find more information on Children cases in our Factsheets relating to children matters and further information on Grandparents’ Rights below.
Once you are ready to discuss your problem, either call our Family Team on 01642 293427 or alternatively complete our Contact Form and request a call back.
We will not use your number to pressure you into instructing our firm.
The problems experienced by grandparents typically involve;-
It is sad to see that grandparents are often the victims of problems in their children’s relationships, and they need specialist advice and support. Paul J Watson Solicitor is committed to helping grandparents to exercise contact, gain residence of grandchildren going into care and to achieve adoption of those grandchildren.
Grandparents’ rights to see their grandchildren
In the vast majority of cases, children should always have the chance to see their grandparents. Having regular and consistent contact with grandparents can massively benefit a child’s life. It can give them the comfort of having a wider family unit and having more people to turn to when problems may occur.
Currently, the law does not give grandparents any set rights to have contact with their grandchildren. This can lead to considerable problems when the parents and grandparents suffer a breakdown in their relationship. As a result grandparents can, through no fault of their own, suffer considerable distress and upset from seeing less of their grandchildren.
Common problems in grandparents’ rights;-
I have recently fallen out with the parents of my grandchildren but I do not want that to affect the relationship I have with my grandchildren. Do I have any rights to see my grandchildren? What should I do?
The first thing to do as a grandparent, is to try and talk to the parents. It may be useful to write a letter in order to avoid any face to face confrontation where emotions may run high and arguments may develop, putting extra strains on relations. Such a letter can explain your concerns about not seeing your grandchildren and can also express to the parents the negative impacts on a grandchild when they start to see less of their grandparents. It can be extremely difficult for a child to lose contact with family members to whom they may have become very close to and where children’s development is concerned, consistency is always of paramount importance. Another option may be to discuss the matter with another family member such as an aunt or uncle to the children who can act as go between
If this is unsuccessful, mediation is the next step to take. This is where the parties will come together at a supervised and controlled meeting. The mediator will consider the position of both parties and negotiate a resolution as to how contact between grandchild and grandparent can be implemented. Mediation is a useful way to gain contact but in a way which seeks to maintain a good relationship between both parties.
My attempts to reach an amicable agreement with the parents has been unsuccessful; now what do I do?
Where all other options fail, it may then become necessary to obtain a court order. The implementation of the Children Act 1989 made it possible for the court to make a number of different orders in respect of children. One of the most common types of court order is a “Child Arrangements Order – Contact“. This term has replaced the terms ‘access’ and ‘contact order’, but it is essentially the same thing. An applicant for such an order will asks for the court to allow them to have either direct or indirect contact. Direct contact is where the person to whom the order is granted will be able to physically see the children and perhaps take part in activities with them. Indirect contact is where the person will talk to the child by letter, telephone, e-mail, text messages etc.
As a grandparent, how do I get a Child Arrangements Order for Contact?
At present, before applying for any of these orders, a grandparent must first obtain the court’s permission to make an application. This is because grandparents do not usually have what is known as ‘parental responsibility’ (see point 5 below for an explanation of what this means).
In deciding whether or not to grant permission the court will consider the connection between the person making the application and how any order will affect the child in question.
If permission is granted and an application for a Child Arrangements Order – Contact is made, the court will consider what is in the best interests of the child. They will take into account all the circumstances of the case in order to assess whether allowing the grandparents to have contact is the best solution.
I am concerned about the safety of my grandchildren in their current home. Is there anything I can do?
Many grandparents may have grave concerns over the current upbringing of their grandchildren. They may have witnessed their grandchildren being neglected, either physically or emotionally, or in the worst cases, both.
The other most common type of order under the Children Act 1989 is the ‘Child Arrangements Order – Residence’, formerly known as a ‘residence order’ or ‘custody’ whereby the person applying for such an order is asking the court for their permission for the child or children to live with them. As with applications for Child Arrangements Orders – Contact, permission of the court is required before grandparents can obtain residence.
In deciding whether or not to make an order, the court will consider whether or not it is in the best interests of the child for them to live with their grandparents. This will often include detailed assessments of their current conditions and the background to their life with their parents.
How can I obtain grandparents’ rights so I can make decisions on my grandchildren’s upbringing?
In order to make important decisions regarding a child’s welfare such as consenting to their medical treatment or making decisions in relation to their education, a person must have what is known as ‘parental responsibility’ for the child in question. This gives the holder the right to make all of these important decisions.
However, grandparents do not automatically have parental responsibility and they must be obtained through the courts or by entering into a parental responsibility agreement with the parents. The latter of these may be difficult to obtain as it is unlikely that the parents would be willing to consent to such an arrangement.
If grandparents have a Child Arrangements Order – Residence made in their favour then they will gain parental responsibility. However, a Child Arrangements Order – Contact does not attach such rights.
What if I obtain a Child Arrangements Order for contact but the parents of my grandchild ignore it?
The courts will always strive to ensure that parents comply with any order that they make. Unfortunately, it can never guarantee that this will be the case. However, if parents purposefully fail to obey a contact order the court has the power to put in place measures to encourage parents to allow contact which may include asking them to participate in unpaid work. When an order is made, the court will attach what is known as a warning notice on the parents which sets out the consequences of disobeying an order. This will hopefully dissuade parents from ignoring these orders.
If you require advice on any of these issues, please do not hesitate to contact us for a free no-obligation initial consultation by calling us on 01642 293427 or completing our Contact Form with your details to request a call back.
For further advice, support and a helpline on grandparents’ rights, we recommend that you visit;-