How to secure access to your grandchildren where contact has been denied or restricted following separation

June 12th 2024

A separation can be a difficult time for all, including wider family members. Many grandparents play an active role in their grandchildren’s lives. Sadly, the relationship between grandchildren and grandparents often suffers when the parents separate. 

Grandparents have no rights in law to see their grandchildren; they do not have parental responsibility. It is a matter for the parents as to who their children spend time with, how and when. 

What can grandparents do?

Communication is important. Emotions are heightened during a separation, particularly where children are involved. A calm and respectful discussion with the parent(s) is the first place to start. Always have in mind that it is not about what the grandparent wants, but what would be good for the grandchild(ren).

If those conversations do not go well, there are other routes available including mediation. Who should mediate? An independent third party can act as a Mediator, whether this is another family member, friend, or professional. To find out more about mediation, visit SE-Solicitors mediation page

Applying to Court

Unlike parents, grandparents do not have an automatic right to make an application to see their grandchild(ren). They must first apply for permission from the Court to make such an application.

When applying for permission the Court will consider: 

  • the relationship between the grandparent and grandchild(ren);
  • why the application has been made;
  • why the contact has been restricted or stopped;
  • what impact an order may have on the children and family; and
  • the child(ren)’s wishes and feelings, where obtainable. 

Ultimately, the welfare of the child(ren) will be the Court’s primary concern. Any application will need to show how it is in their best interests to spend time with their grandparent. 

Only once permission has been granted can a grandparent apply for a Child Arrangements Order setting out when and how they may see their grandchild(ren).

If the parent(s) object to the grandparent’s application, then a contested hearing is likely. The Court will consider evidence from the parties, and sometimes from professionals, and decide what would be in the grandchildren’s best interests, including whether an Order is even necessary. 

Deciding what to do can be daunting. It is important to get legal advice early to consider your options. If you need advice about your position as a grandparent, please get in touch by completing the form here or call Sigourney Lee-Smith directly 01295 204009.