Children love to be loved and to have the security of knowing they are loved. Grandparents love to love and to pamper and make a fuss of their grandchildren. Creation is amazing.
Where everyone has shared in the family unit growing with the addition of a child, a void is left if family ties are severed and the child is isolated from family members. If not handled with care, a child will not only have to deal with the changes in the daily routine and family unit, but if denied access and contact with the extended family, there will be a void. A void in the child's life and also in the grandparents'. Grandparents may have actively helped with childcare. Children will have developed a bond and relationship of trust with the grandparents. Why take that away? Why add to a child's pain and loss?Grandparents Plus
is a national charity foundered by Jean Stogdon and Lord Young of Dartington (who also founded the Open University and other organisations) that highlights the importance of the role of 'Grandparents and the wider family'.
Grandparents feel helpless when parents decide to separate and they feel they do not have any say as to whether they can see their grandchildren. Grandparents, you do have options.
Parents should try to agree the child arrangements as to with whom and where the children should live each day of the week. Grandparents can try to reach an agreement with parents that they can have contact with their grandchildren; what type of contact this will include (for example visiting, Skype, email, telephone or text) and the frequency. Grandparents should also respect the parents' role in raising their child and also the parents' and children's timetable and other commitments. A child-focused Child Arrangements Plan will benefit the child.
In the event that parents and grandparents cannot agree the child arrangements, they should seek assistance from a Mediator. A Mediator is an independent, neutral, third party who will try to assist the parties to find a solution for the child arrangements. In the event that this is not possible and discussions breakdown, parents and grandparents can seek the court's assistance. A court will expect parties to have been to at least one Mediation Information Assessment Meeting (MIAM) unless there are factors where this would not be appropriate (for example where there has been domestic violence). It would be helpful to seek legal advice.
While a parent with parental responsibility can make an application under the Children Act 1989 for a Child Arrangements Order, grandparents will first need permission from the court before they can make their court application to see their grandchildren. Grandparents do not have an automatic right to see their grandchildren and the court will look at various factors when deciding what Child Arrangements Order to make, including how the children will be affected, what will be in the children's best interest, the parents' wishes and feelings, and the grandparents connection with the grandchildren. Where the court appoints a court welfare officer (Cafcass
) to prepare a report, in compiling the report, a child's wishes and feelings may also be taken into account depending on the child's age and level of understanding.
Grandparents can enhance a child's personal development. Children, as they get older, find their genetic origin is important to help them with their self- and cultural identity. To deny them contact with grandparents may have lasting detrimental consequences on both the children and grandparents.
Should a parent prevent their children from being able to say the words 'Grandparents, we love you'? Is it right that a parent can, without a justifiable reason, prevent their children from seeing their grandparents and saying those magical three words?
Website linksCare for the familywww.careforthefamily.org.uk/ Grandparents Pluswww.grandparentsplus.org.uk/Family Mediation Councilwww.familymediationcouncil.org.uk/find-local-mediator/
For more information on applications by grandparents for child arrangements orders, see the Lexis®PSL Family Practice Note: Grandparents and children proceedings (subscription required).
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