Grandparents can often get caught in the middle of warring parents which can have a negative effect on their own relationship with their grandchildren. We recognise that grandparents are a huge asset to any family, and often play an important role in their upbringing. To help you in this difficult period, we have some suggestions as to how you can work with both parents to maintain a role as a grandparent.
In the first instance, we recommend mediation and other forms of dispute resolution as a means by which grandparents can reach an agreement with parents. These are widely acknowledged as a more sensitive approach to resolving disagreements in relation to children and are designed to avoid costly and emotionally stressful court proceedings.
Child arrangements order
In the event that an agreement cannot be reached in relation to when and for how long you spend time with your grandchild, then you are able to apply to the court for a child arrangements order. This will regulate arrangements as to when and with whom a child is to live, spend time or otherwise have contact. If you are considering making such an application, you should be aware of the following:
- As a grandparent you do not have an automatic right to apply for a child arrangements order. You will need the court’s permission; which is generally granted as it is considered that a child should not be denied contact in the long term with a grandparent because of difficulties between the grandparent and the child’s mother/father. It is acknowledged by the courts that grandparents play an important role in children’s lives.
- You would need to issue your application against the parent with whom the child resides, whether that be your son or daughter or the child’s other parent
- The order is for the benefit of the child and the judge will put the child’s welfare first, before any disagreement that may have occurred between the child’s parents or grandparents
- More than one child arrangements order can be made in relation to a child. If there is already a child arrangements order in place in relation to the parent who does not live with the child then there can also be another order in place in relation to that same child’s grandparent
Although the commencement of court proceedings is never a favourable route to resolution of a dispute, especially one relating to a child, it is important that grandparents realise that there are various options available to them.