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If you are a grandparent, whilst you do not automatically have rights to start proceedings, you may be able to do so.

Statistics show that it is quite common on the breakup of a relationship for grandparents to lose or at least have their grandparental contact limited. Where possible, contact, non-court dispute resolution and gentle coaxing of the parents concerned plays an important role.

Do you think you need legal help with a situation regarding grandparents access?

Call the family law team to discuss your options

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Rights in relation to grandchildren

A grandparent can seek the court’s permission to make a Child Arrangements Order. Most grandparents will be required, except in limited circumstances, to attend a mediation session prior to making any application so it is important preliminary attempts are made to attempt to agree some level of contact. There is then a procedure for joining formal court proceedings if mediation fails.

Going to court to see grandchildren

In the event you need to go to go to court to be able to see your grandchildren then the courts will look at a number of factors such as the level of involvement of a grandparent in lives in those of their grandchildren, the nature of the application and the views of the parents. Only if this permission is granted, can you then move and have the court consider the appropriate level of time the children should spend with you.

If you are successful in seeking permission the court can then move on to consider many of the same important factors such as those considered in any other contact application and particularly the wishes and feelings of your grandchildren and how capable you are of meeting their needs.

“There are now more grandparents providing childcare and more multi-generational households, accompanied by a rising feeling on the part of grandparents that they should have a right to see their grandchildren. All of these factors have led to a 25 per cent rise in applications in the last year by grandparents asking for contact with their grandchildren”

“Enhancing the rights of grandchildren to see their grandparents” by Judith Stather, May 2018, Family Law Week

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    My grandchildren are old enough to have rung me and said they really want more contact and more time with me, does that help me if I want to bring a child arrangements application?

    Absolutely. Wishes and feelings are an important factor and are usually taken into account from after a child is 9.

    My children used to rely heavily on me to help them with their childcare. Since they separated they have stopped doing so. Can I now make an application to get my grandchildren back?

    Yes, you are in the classic situation when it would be appropriate to at least consider eliciting pressure on the parents so as to allow contact. You may wish to consider the sort of application outlined above.

    Since I am not my grandchildren's parents, how can I get permission to start proceedings?

    You are entitled to seek permission and the court applications and forms allow for this. You should seek advice as to how to do this and whether it is appropriate to your particular circumstances.