FAQ – I am a grandparent where do I stand legally with seeing my grandchild (ren)
29 July 2019 by Charlotte Knappett
Many grandparents have an important role in the lives of their grandchildren. When couples separate it can lead to a disruption to this important family relationship and, understandably, grandparents fear they may lose contact with their grandchildren.
Although it is possible for grandparents to make an application to the Family Court for their grandchildren to spend time with them, making an application too soon can often increase hostility in an already fragile situation. There are other forms of alternative dispute resolution available, such as mediation and family therapy/counselling which should be considered first. These may well assist not only the grandparent/parent relationship, but also the relationship within the family as a whole. Court proceedings should only be considered as a last resort.
If however, parents are still opposed to their children seeing their grandparents, it is possible for grandparents to make an application to the Family Court for a child arrangements order. Although grandparents do not have an automatic right to apply to the Court for an order in relation to their grandchildren, they can apply in the first instance for permission to make an application to the Family Court.
The Court’s focus will always be on the best interests of the child or children. The court will wish to ensure that both parents are having time with the children, if it is safe to do so, before considering the wider family unit. The Court will look at the role that a grandparent has played in the child’s life previously and whether a reintroduction or continuation of contact with a grandparent is in the child or children’s best interests.