Grandparents rights – How Can I Get Access to my Grandchild?
We are frequently asked what rights grandparents have when they have been denied contact with their grandchildren. This can be because a son or daughter is separating from their partner or perhaps the child is in the care of the Trust who is not willing to facilitate any contact. When families suffer a breakdown, through one reason or another, grandparents often find themselves excluded from seeing their grandchildren.
The sad reality is that grandparents do not have an automatic right to see their grandchildren, and the Courts will likely give priority to a parent to establish a relationship with their child after a relationship breakdown to avoid a child being overwhelmed with numerous contact visits.
If you find yourself in such circumstances, as a first step it might be a good idea to reach out to the resident parent and offer support on a practical basis to try and make life easier for them post –separation by offering to take/collect the children from school or offering to look after the children on an evening to allow that parent to socialise. Whilst it can be difficult, it is in the best interests of the children to try and remain neutral when there has been a relationship breakdown, regardless of who is at fault. This would be a good base upon which to try and build a relationship with your grandchildren and to ensure that you have regular contact with them moving forward.
Sadly, this will not work in all cases. If you have exhausted all options and feel you are not making any headway, an application for contact can be made to the Family Proceedings Court. The family courts do recognise the invaluable role that grandparents have to play in their grandchildren’s lives, and whilst their rights are limited, they can apply for leave of the Court to apply for a contact order.
In considering a grandparent’s application for contact, the Court will consider:
- The applicant’s connection with the child
- The nature of the application before the Court, and
- Whether the application might be potentially harmful to the child’s well-being
It is important to note that the welfare of the child is the Court’s paramount consideration.
If the Court grants the leave application, grandparents are then entitled to bring their application for contact with their grandchildren before the Court.
Given the child(ren)’s parents will likely hold parental responsibility, they will be asked whether or not they consent to the application before the Court. If one or both parents object to the application then it is likely that a full hearing on the matter will take place and parties may be asked to give evidence to the Court to support their position. Depending on the child(ren)’s age, their wishes and feelings towards having contact with their grandparents may be ascertained to assist the Court in making its judgement.
At Harte Coyle Collins Solicitors we have extensive experience of representing clients in disputes regarding children. If you require any advice or assistance then please email one of our family and matrimonial lawyers Paula Collins email@example.com or Sinead Ingram firstname.lastname@example.org or telephone the office on 02890278227 to speak to someone personally.
HARTE COYLE COLLINS
SOLICITORS & ADVOCATES