Recent research shows that two third’s of grandparents care for a grandchild full time or on a regular basis. There are many misbeliefs when it comes to their rights in regard to grandchildren.
It is common that when the parents of a child separate, the extended family and relationships between a child and their grandparents are forgotten about. Equally, if parents are in dispute about their time being spent with the child, the time a grandparent spends with a child becomes more limited. There could be a number of reasons for this such as safeguarding concerns, or one parent may not want to allow a grandparent to spend time with the child due to ongoing conflicts between the parents.
In cases where time between a child and parent is limited, it may be best for the child to spend time with a grandparents during any contact they have with a parent as this reduces the needs for additional arrangements to be made.
Grandparents do not have parental responsibility which unfortunately means that there is no automatic legal right for grandparents to see their grandchild. It is however important that children continue to have a relationship with their grandparents as they can become additional role models in the children’s lives. The loss of such a relationship could have an emotional impact on the child.
Grandparents can make a Court Application to spend time with their grandchild, or apply for the child to live with them (depending on the circumstances) and the Courts do have the power to make Court Orders in this regard.
As with any family law matter, families should always attempt to be amicable by agreeing arrangements between them in an attempt to resolve any outstanding issues, to avoid making a Court application where possible. By doing so, it is putting the child’s needs first.
As with any Court Application, Mediation should also be attempted before applying to the Court, unless there are circumstances where Mediation is not appropriate, such as risk of harm to the child.
Usually, the Court would require a 2-stage process in making a Court Application. This means that Grandparents would have to make an application to the Court for permission to be able to apply for Child Arrangement Orders. Anyone with Parental Responsibility for a child would have to be notified of the Application.
Permission may not be required for example where a child has lived with a Grandparent already for a certain period of time, consent of parents is provided or the application is supported by the Local Authority.
As with any application, it is important to consider how likely it is that the application would be successful based on the circumstances and any risk of disruption to the child if arrangements were to change considerably.
Depending on the Local Authorities views, grandparents may become potential carers for a child and the Local Authority can also offer support with allowance and counselling. Where the Local Authority are not allowing contact between a child and their grandparents whilst proceedings are ongoing, an application can be made within these proceedings.
You may also question whether the Court would make assumptions on your ability to care for a child given your age. The Court should not do such a thing but it will be a factor that is considered.
Here at Andrew Isaacs Law, we can discuss your circumstances and what options are available to you. This can also apply to other family members such as elder siblings, aunts and uncles. There are a number of circumstances that make each matter unique and specific advice would be required.
Contact us today to arrange a consultation, in order that we can advise you, because we know your family matters.