Justice Minister Simon Hughes confirmed during the last financial year that 2,517 applications were made by grandparents wishing to see their grandchildren. These applications often followed the separation of the children's parents.
Grandparents have no automatic right to be a part of their grandchild's life when the child's parents separate. This can be immensely distressing, with many grandparents today being heavily involved in the upbringing of their grandchildren; helping with childcare arrangements, collecting them from school, caring for them in holidays in preference to costly nursery care. Parents often make different arrangements when they separate which can leave grandparents, who have previously played an instrumental role in their grandchild's life, feeling alienated.
Changes in legal aid mean that many grandparents who are pensioners can no longer qualify for assistance with legal costs associated with representation through a Court. Legal aid does, however, remain available for family mediation (subject to assessment) and grandparents are able to take advantage of this if they qualify.
From April 2014, the Government has insisted that anyone who wants to apply to the Court for a Child Arrangements Order to spend time with a grandchild must first attend a Mediation Information Assessment Meeting (MIAM) with a trained mediator. The concept of family mediation, whilst particularly unfamiliar to the older generation, could be a suitable option.
If grandparents choose to make an application to the Court, most will be required to make a two-stage application to a Court. The first stage involves satisfying the Court that you have a legitimate case and a second stage, when the Judge determines if a Child Arrangements Order (formally a Residence and Contact Order) should be made.
For an initial, no-obligation discussion, please contact our Family Law team on 0113 201 4900.Back to Blog