Grandparents’ Rights

October 2nd 2020

granddaughter reading a book with grandmother

It is Grandparents Day on 4th October 2020 so what better time to talk about grandparents’ rights to see their grandchildren?

Whilst many grandparents are able to enjoy a relationship with their grandchildren, unfortunately this is not the case for all grandparents.  This article covers what can be done if you are a grandparent and are experiencing difficulties seeing your grandchildren.

What actions can grandparents take to see their grandchildren?

In England and Wales grandparents do not have an automatic right to see their grandchildren.  In order to see your grandchildren, the first thing to try is to speak to the parent with whom the grandchildren live and try to reach an agreement with them. 

If those conversations do not go well, mediation would be the next best route to try.  Mediation could take place with a professional mediator facilitating discussions between you and parent with whom the children live or by using another family member to act as a mediator.

Applications to court

Should neither of these initial stages work then you can apply to court.  You first of all need to apply for permission to make a court application as, unfortunately, grandparents do not have the same automatic right to make a court application straight away in the same way that parents do.

The courts in England and Wales recognise the importance of the role that grandparents play in their grandchildrens’ lives so they are likely to grant permission to allow you to apply to court. 

The court will consider your connection with the children, the nature of the application and whether the application could potentially be harmful to the children’s wellbeing in anyway.  If you are successful if obtaining permission to apply to court, then you can apply for a Child Arrangements Order for your grandchildren to spend time with you.

If one or both parents raise an objection to your application, the court will need to list the matter for a contested hearing where all parties can put forward their evidence.  At this point it is important to seek legal advice to help persuade the court that you have a meaningful relationship with your grandchildren, which it is in their best interests to continue.

After hearing evidence, the court will decide what is in the children’s best interests and will make an order when they consider it is better for the children to make an order than to make no order at all. 

Next steps

If you need help with making arrangements to see your grandchildren, please call us and speak to one of our experts in family law.

Madeleine Harrington is a Family Law Solicitor in Spratt Endicott’s Brackley and Buckingham offices. To discuss this article with her please email

*Disclaimer: While everything has been done to ensure the accuracy of the contents of this article, it is a general guide only. It is not comprehensive and does not constitute legal advice. Specific legal advice should be sought in relation to the particular facts of a given situation. The information is accurate at date of publication, 2nd of October 2020 .