Grandparents’ Rights to See Grandchildren at Christmas
14 December 2017
As a grandparent living in England or Wales, you don’t have an automatic legal right to see your grandchildren, even at Christmas. If you’re being prevented from seeing your grandchildren, you could try mediation, or you could apply for a Court Order.
Seeing Grandchildren at Christmas
If you’ve been stopped from seeing your grandchildren, then you’re not alone. This is a sad reality for many grandparents, and a change in family circumstances is often the cause.
Most commonly it starts when the child’s parents divorce or separate. When this happens, the resident parent decides who their child sees, and grandparents can get pushed out of the picture.
Whether this is because relations have become bitter, or because the resident parent moves away, the result is the same – you no longer have meaningful relationship with your grandchildren.
This can be extremely upsetting, particularly at Christmas when you want to be with all your loved ones. However, there aren’t any legal rights you can rely on, because in England and Wales grandparents don’t have an automatic right to see their grandchildren.
Legal Options for Grandparent Visitation Rights
Firstly, you could try to resolve the matter directly. Ask the resident parent if there’s any reason why you can’t see your grandchild (or grandchildren), and whether you would be able to come to some sort of arrangement.
Remember that no matter how bad relations have become, you’re doing this so that you can spend time with those you love. So it’s always best to remain civil, and keep a record of the communication between you and the resident parent.
If this doesn’t work, the next step is to try mediation. Mediation is when you and the child’s parents meet with a specially trained mediator, who will try to help you reach a mutually-agreeable solution.
However, mediation may not be successful, or one parent may not agree to it. In which case your last option is to apply for a Child Arrangements Order. But there are a couple of things you’ll need to do beforehand.
Firstly, if you haven’t already been through mediation then you’ll need to attend a Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting (MIAM). The parents will be invited to join the meeting, but again one parent may refuse, so again it may be unsuccessful.
Secondly, unless you have Parental Responsibility for your grandchild, you’ll need to get the Court’s permission to apply for a Court Order. If this is granted, you can apply to the Court for a Child Arrangement Order.
The Judge will then decide if, when and how you should spend time with your grandchild. The Court Order will be legally binding, and can make specific provisions, such as whether you’re allowed to see them at Christmas.
The Judge’s decision will be based on what is best for the child (or children). Unless both parents disagree with you having contact, it’s likely that the Judge will enable the relationship between you and your grandchildren to resume.