Relationship breakdown can have a devastating impact on the wider family, and can make it very difficult for grandparents to see their grandchildren. This can be the cause of huge distress for grandparents.
If you are a grandparent, you do not have an automatic right to spend time with your grandchildren. However, there are a number of options available to you to help you achieve this.
Ideally you will be able to talk to the parents and reach an agreement. Mediation can be of huge help, and our specialist mediators are experienced in guiding discussions between parents and grandparents in order to help them address any concerns and reach an agreement.
If you are not able to reach an agreement, the courts can assist you. There is a two stage process; first you will first need to apply to the court for permission to apply for an order (as a grandparent you do not have an automatic right to do so). Then, if you are successful in that application, you will need to apply for an order that the children spend time with you.
There is no presumption that contact with a grandparent, or any other extended family member, is in a child's best interests but the courts are sympathetic to grandparents in this situation, and do recognise the valuable role that grandparents can play in children's lives.
It is very important that you remain impartial in disputes between your grandchildren's parents. Case law recognises that grandparents can provide a haven for the children at a time when their parents are embroiled in a difficult dispute, but where grandparents have 'taken sides' and show hostility to one of the parents, the courts will be cautious in granting them contact with the children.