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Grandparents: Where do they stand?
Grandparents have a valuable role to play in the welfare, development and upbringing of their grandchildren. Statistics have previously revealed that over half of over-55s in the UK provide some regular childcare support for grandchildren with one in five looking after grandchildren twice a week. Research from Grandparents Plus reveals that grandparents contribute around £7 billion to the UK economy in free child care to family members.
In addition, the government has announced plans for working grandparents to be entitled to take time off as well as sharing parental leave and pay to help care for grandchildren.
It is clear that Grandparents play an instrumental role but what happens when it comes to a family separation? Where do they stand?
When a relationship breaks down there can be conflict between parents and grandparents about the children. Many grandparents play an active role in the upbringing of their grandchildren and when there is a family separation they are often worried they will be prevented from having any contact with their grandchildren.
The courts recognise the role of grandparents and, where they find themselves denied the right to spend time with their grandchildren, they can apply to the court for a child arrangements order.
However, whilst there is a court process available it is not as straightforward as it would be for a parent and there are some hurdles to be overcome.
Grandparents do not have an automatic right to make an application to the court and they must first seek “leave” (permission) from the court to do so. Prior to any application, Grandparents – just as parents – are required to attend at mediation.
Given the additional steps the court process can become expensive and stressful. Other options should always be explored and mediation, being the first step in any application to the Family Court, can be a useful tool for resolving issues relating to child arrangements.
Ultimately, the welfare of the child/children will be the paramount consideration of the court and a decision will be made based on what is in their best interests.
Tozers LLP are proud to be affiliated with the Grandparents’ Association who put the issue of Grandparents Rights at the forefront. If you have concerns over the quality or amount of time you are able to spend with your grandchildren, contact us today for a free initial, no obligation consultation.