Legal Advice for Grandparents in Relation to Grandchildren
If you have a son or daughter whose relationship has broken down, and there are children involved, you would probably be interested to know what you could do if you find that as a result, your contact with your grandchildren has been stopped or greatly reduced.
Where provisions for child contact arrangements are made through the court, this does not always include contact with grandparents. This can be extremely hard for the grandchildren, for whom maintaining contact with much loved grandparents can be a great comfort after the separation of their parents.
A challenging and frequently unacknowledged outcome of a divorce or separation can be children being deprived of time with their grandparents or other close relatives.
If you are a grandparent and are experiencing problems with access to your grandchildren or you are worried about the loss of contact due to the separation of their parents, the expert solicitors at Clifford Johnston are on hand to offer legal advice.
Why Choose Clifford Johnston & Co?
At Clifford Johnston, we appreciate the significant role you play as a grandparent and the benefit that role has on the lives of your grandchildren.
Unfortunately, grandparents are often the first family members to be alienated when the relationship between the child’s parents breaks down. Our team of family law solicitors have extensive experience in helping clients in the same situation as you.
Clifford Johnston can advise on the legal process and solutions available to grandparents to allow you to rebuild contact with your grandchildren and can advise grandparents who might want to look after a grandchild full-time. Based in Greater Manchester, we pride ourselves on our outstanding reputation for offering legal advice to grandparents from all over the North West, England, and Wales.
Our knowledgeable solicitors are skilled and empathetic when helping grandparents who are in this unfortunate situation, and we will guide you through your options with empathy.
Grandparents’ Rights to See Their Grandchildren
First and foremost, the court will not consider specifically the right of a grandparent to see their grandchildren, but will look at a case from the point of view of the rights of the child to see their grandparents. Under the laws of England and Wales, grandparents do not have an automatic right to see their grandchildren, and they do not have automatic parental responsibility.
Parental responsibility can be acquired by a grandparent if they seek a child arrangements order under which they then are able to spend time with a grandchild or have them living with them. In most case such parental responsibility as they are given is shared with the parents. An even greater level of parental responsibility can be given to a grandparent if they seek a Special Guardianship Order, in circumstances where neither parent is able to look after the children full time.
While grandparents do not have legal rights to see their grandchildren, parents do have the legal right to choose who their children see, therefore it is advisable to keep your relationship with your grandchildren’s parents amicable and constructive if at all possible.
If arrangements to see your grandchildren cannot be made between you and the child’s parents, then you may have to start court proceedings. The family courts acknowledge that grandparents can play a fundamental role in their grandchildren’s lives, so there are ways for grandparents to request contact with their grandchildren through court proceedings
Get in touch with Clifford Johnston today and our solicitors will discuss the various options available to you. We understand that this can be a worrying time and will be on hand every step of the way to provide practical assistance as well as clear advice.
Child Arrangement Orders Involving Grandparents
Child arrangements orders are court orders which regulate the living and contact arrangements for children, usually after divorce or separation of their parents. Orders can also be made to enable grandchildren to see, stay with, or even live with a grandparent, and sometimes such orders may be made when the parents are still together. Every case is different and what order is made will depend on the circumstances.
Grandparents do not have an automatic right to apply for a child arrangement order, although there are some exceptions, so it is worth making every effort to resolve matters in other ways before applying to the court. To discuss whether any of the exceptions apply to your unique circumstances, talk to a qualified solicitor at Clifford Johnston today.
If all other avenues have been exhausted, the first step is for grandparents to request permission from the court to make an application for a child arrangement order. The court will take into consideration various factors such as; the involvement grandparents have in the children’s lives, the reason for the application as well as the opinions of the parents, and whether the application may be damaging to the child, or is likely to be beneficial to them. More often than not, permission to make a full application is granted and, unless the case is settled, the court will enable the parties involved to give evidence before deciding on what final order should be made.
Grandparents’ Rights: Special Guardianship
If a child’s parents are unable to take proper care of a child, a Special Guardianship Order may be put in place to appoint another set of carers.
If a grandparent is suggested as a Special Guardian, the local authority will assess whether they are suitable. The Special Guardianship provides the Special Guardians with parental responsibility which means they can make decisions for the child without having to consult the child’s parents. A Special Guardianship order is designed to give the child a permanent home until they reach the age of 18.
Parents, or those with parental responsibility, can make an application to the Court to end a Special Guardianship Order as long as they can demonstrate that there have been substantial changes in their circumstances since the Special Guardianship Order was put in place.
Grandparents’ Rights After Adoption and Foster Care
Difficulties can arise for grandparents when their grandchild is fostered or adopted. If a child has to go into care, the local authority has a responsibility to encourage contact with the child’s birth family, as long as it is appropriate for the child’s welfare.
The first consideration is always given to parents which means contact with the grandparents is not often seen as a priority by Children’s Services. Consequently, a child’s relationship with grandparents may suffer.
An order stipulating contact with the grandparents may be arranged when the adoption order is put in place, so that the children can still spend time with their birth grandparents. However, this is quite rate unless the adoption is within the family.
Are Grandparents Allowed to Adopt Their Grandchildren?
There is nothing in law stopping a grandparent from adopting their grandchild. Although, the family relationship may become skewed if the child’s biological grandparents become their legal parents. This is why Special Guardianship Orders are usually preferred over adoption orders for grandparents who are wanting their grandchildren to live with them permanently.
Grandparents’ Rights After the Death of a Parent
Grandparents are not inevitably given the right to care for their grandchildren following the death of one or both of the child’s parents.
It might be more appropriate for an uncle or auntie to care for the child due to their age, but, on many occasions, uncles and aunts will already have commitments to their own children. In this situation, grandparents would be seen as the more appropriate option to care for the child.
Normally, families are able to decide these matters between themselves.
It is essential to remember that when making a will it is necessary to consider who should be assigned as a Guardian for children if their parents pass away. Clifford Johnston is on hand to discuss your options in more detail and to give you any further information you need with regards to grandparents’ rights, please contact a member of the family team for more information.
Contact Our Child Law Solicitors Today
We regularly help local families with all matters relating to child custody and access so for professional, confidential advice contact us today.
Our friendly team will deal with your enquiry sensitively and with understanding, so contact us today for helpful and supportive advice.
With offices in Stockport (Heaton Moor) & Manchester (Burnage), our expert family solicitors are easily accessible. We represent clients not only locally and throughout Stockport, Cheshire, Lancashire & Manchester but also across the United Kingdom. You can count on us to help and guide you whatever your challenge or circumstance.