Grandparents are often an essential and very big part of a child’s care. It is not uncommon for Grandparents to provide as much, or even more, caregiving to a child as parents do. Children will be accustomed to the routine but when parents separate, one frequent urgent upshot is that those routines break down and grandparents can find themselves ostracised.

In many of our cases grandparents are key to any arrangements concerning the children. Parties will be advised they must put the childrens’ needs first and where children have a strong bond with their grandparents that should mean they keep up the contact and provide support to the children. Children should be protected from emotional discussion about the separation process and so grandparents must be careful not to add to any conflict that there may be within the family.

We generally find in our cases that we can agree contact for grandparents as part of arrangements with the parents. Most parents will quickly see that depriving a child contact with their grandparent is a mostly needless and damaging course of conduct.

The first consideration is to see if we can seek to reach agreement without recourse to court. This may be by directly speaking with the other party or referring the parents and grandparents to mediation. In point of fact, though there are some exceptions, mediation is usually necessary before proceedings can be issued for a child arrangements order (these mandatory mediations are called Mediation Information Assessment Meetings). Where an agreement is reached it will include a calendar and timetable that can include grandparent time.

Where matters have not resolved then the parents may well find themselves either applying for or responding to court proceedings to formalise care arrangements. For obvious reasons most proceedings are issued by parents not grandparents. The grandparents role in proceedings is often then through the parent and orders can reflect grandparent contact.

Unfortunately otherwise grandparents have an additional hurdle to jump if they wish to apply for court for contact as the rules provide that only someone with parental rights and responsibilities can apply for contact. The first application would be one to the Court for permission to apply. Only if that is granted they could the second application for a child arrangements order proceed. At all times the Court has in mind what is in the childrens’ best interest.

All cases turn on the facts of the case and we would be pleased to speak with you about your matter to give you specific advice. Of course this very general overview cannot be relied upon as advice is an outline only of some possibilities.