Grandparents Contact to Children
Often, grandparents play a significant role in the upbringing and care of children. Sadly, following the breakdown in a relationship, this can impact upon contact between the children and grandparents which can be upsetting for both, grandparents and children. In addition, unfortunately, the relationship between children and parents sometimes breaks down and contact between grandparents and children can also break down.
A grandparent is not entitled to contact to a child. However, the Courts often look favourably upon any such applications, particularly where there has been a close bond, regular contact and a good relationship between the children and the grandparents. It is possible to make an application to the Courts for an Order that grandparents have contact to grandchildren under the Children Act 1989. If, however, such an application is made, this may damage, further, the relationship between the parents of the children and grandparents.
It may be helpful to attempt or try mediation in the first instance. If mediation does not work, then an application for contact can be made under the Children Act. A fee is payable if an application is made to the Courts. If such an application is made and grandparents are either on a low income or welfare benefits, then providing they ensure that they can give the Court evidence of their low income/benefits together with copies of recent bank statements, they may not have to pay the fee.
If an application for contact is made, then the Court must give leave to the grandparents before the application can proceed.
When considering whether leave should be given the following is taken into account
(a) the nature of the proposed application for the section 8 order;
(b) the applicant’s connection with the child;
(c) any risk there might be of that proposed application disrupting the child’s life to such an extent that he would be harmed by it; and
(d) where the child is being looked after by a local authority—
(e) the authority’s plans for the child’s future; and
(f) the wishes and feelings of the child’s parents.
Providing there is a relationship between grandparents and grandchildren, leave is likely to be granted. When considering an application by grandparents, the Courts will take into account the welfare checklist which is set out in the Children Act 1989 and this is as follows
a) The ascertainable wishes and feelings of the child concerned (considered in the light of his age and understanding;
b) His physical, emotional and educational needs;
c) The likely effect on him of any change in his circumstances;
d) His age, sex, background and any characteristics of his which the Court considers relevant;
e) Any harm which he has suffered or is at risk of suffering;
f) How capable each of his parents, and any other person in relation to whom the Court considers the question to be relevant, is of meeting his needs;
g) The range of powers available to the Court under this Act in the proceedings in question.
There is no doubt that courts are often now much more sympathetic to applications by Grandparents than years ago so it is worth seeking advice.
If you are a grandparent and would like advice on contact to children do give us a telephone call to discuss.
If you need help or advice either as a Grandparent or a Parent for your own children, contact us now and speak to one of our Family Law team.