As a grandparent, the love you have for a grandchild is very strong. Sadly, however, this still does not automatically give you the right to see them.
Fortunately, family courts often recognise the important role you have to play in your grandchild’s life so they will rarely deny you access unless there is any evidence of violence or abuse.
If one or both of your grandchild’s parents are refusing to let you see the child, you may be able to get a court order allowing you to do so.
Applying through the courts for access to your grandchild
Only those with parental responsibility, such as the child’s parents or guardians, are allowed to make an application for a child arrangements order themselves.
But, whilst your legal rights may be limited, you are able to apply for permission (leave) from the courts to allow you to apply for a Contact Order in the future.
To accept your application for permission, the court will consider a number of factors, including:
⦁ Your connection with the child,
⦁ The reason for and nature of your application for contact, and
⦁ Whether the application might be potentially harmful to the child’s wellbeing in any way at all.
If successful, you’ll be able to apply for a Contact Order through the court to give you legal access to your grandchild. If either of the parents object to your contact order application, it is likely that you’ll need to attend a full hearing of the case, where the court will hear evidence and other information to decide whether or not to grant the order.
You may also be looking to make an application for your grandchild to come live with you. These applications, though less common, are usually made where a parent is unable to look after the child when the grandparent wishes to put themselves forward as the alternative carer.
This will involve a much lengthier court case because you may need to prove not only that the child’s parent is unfit, but that you are a suitable carer for them. This will depend greatly on whether the parent in question agrees with your application or not.
Application and hearing
It is always recommended that you attempt to reach an agreement about access to your grandchild informally with the parents first. This could save a great deal of time, stress, and legal fees if you can come to an understanding outside of the courts between yourselves. If this doesn’t work out, you can then ask the court for permission to apply for a court order.
When asking for this formal permission, you will first need to attend a Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting (MIAM). Attendance is compulsory if you’re looking to make an application to the court in most cases, however if there is evidence that the child is at risk of harm if the order is not made soon, this stage may be skipped to form a preliminary order as a matter of urgency.
During the hearing, the court will need to consider the circumstances surrounding the case and the needs of the child in question.
The court will only ever make an order where they believe it will be better for the child than if no order is made at all. This will involve working out whether your continuing contact with the child is likely to have a negative impact on other family relationships or, where necessary, if the parent is seen as unfit alone.
It is very rare for a court to refuse access to a grandchild so, as long as you can prove the child will benefit in some way from your relationship being maintained, it is likely you’ll be able to successfully apply for a contact order.
If you would like to know more about your rights as a grandparent or you would like to seek a court order to allow you access to a grandchild, please call 03330096275 to speak to one of the UK’s leading family law solicitors, Ashmans Solicitors.
You can also email us on firstname.lastname@example.org, or simply fill in the enquiry form below, and our team will get back to you as quickly as possible.
The service we offer to you is as individual as you are. Due to each matter being different and everyone having different needs and requirements, we know how important it is that you have a law firm to represent you that you can trust to act for you as an individual and not just as a case.