11 August 2022

Grandparent’s rights after divorce

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Grandparent’s rights after divorce

The most unrecognized consequence of marriage breakdown can be children estranged from their grandparents and close relatives. When the couple part ways, it is an extremely difficult time for grandparents and extended families. As a result, grandparents are often deprived of time with their grandchildren.

What rights do grandparents have in the UK?

Grandparents do not have automatic parental responsibility or right to access grandchildren in England and Wales upon separation or divorce. Moreover, neither grandparents can request the family court to gain parental responsibility.

They do not have the automatic legal right to see their grandchild if the parent does not grant permission. It is up to the parents to choose who their children see and have contact with.

If the parent has refused unreasonably to give you permission, grandparents can apply to the court under the Children Act (1989). The court will sort out a suitable arrangement for grandparents to maintain contact with their grandchildren.

What can grandparents do to maintain contact with grandchildren?

In an effort to maintain contact, the first thing grandparents can do is support the couple during the tough time without taking sides. Try explaining how much you miss your grandchildren and be willing to provide both emotional and practical support.

If grandparents are refused or did not get a positive response, they can try to get access through

  • Family Mediation – A family mediator will help you reach an agreement with the parents in relation to spending time with your grandchildren. Book a Mediation Information & Assessment Meeting (MIAM) and discuss your situation with the mediator. After discussing with the parents, the mediator will try to work out an agreement suitable for all parties concerned.
  • Family Court – If the mediation fails, the only option left is to move to the court to get permission to meet and have contact with the grandchildren.

Can grandparents apply to the court for access to the grandchildren?

Grandparents can apply to the court to seek permission to contact their grandchildren. Before applying to the courts, grandparents must attend a mediation meeting first unless you are exempt.

If the mediation meeting was not successful, grandparents can apply to the court by filling out the C100 application form and sending it to the nearest family court. Moreover, the mediator must also sign the court order to confirm you attended the meeting.

Once you have submitted the application, the court will set a hearing date and invite an individual with parental responsibility to attend. The court will consider

  • The relationship between the grandparents and grandchildren
  • Nature of the application for contact
  • The child’s interest
  • If the contact with the grandparents would be harmful in any way to the child and the rest of the family

It is not a common occurrence that the court would refuse grandparents to meet grandchildren. However, if the parents raise objections, they will have to attend another hearing with all the parties providing evidence.

Based on argument and evidence, the court will allow or refuse to integrate grandparents into the grandchildren’s lives.


The information in this blog is for general information purposes only and does not purport to be comprehensive or to provide legal advice. Whilst every effort is made to ensure the information and law is current as of the date of publication it should be stressed that, due to the passage of time, this does not necessarily reflect the present legal position. Connaught Law and authors accept no responsibility for loss that may arise from accessing or reliance on information contained in this blog. For formal advice on the current law please don’t hesitate to contact Connaught Law. Legal advice is only provided pursuant to a written agreement, identified as such, and signed by the client and by or on behalf of Connaught Law.

About the Author

Zehra works for a number of corporate immigration and family law clients. She advises on immigration matters including but not limited to applications under Tiers 1-5 of the Points Based System, EEA applications, domestic workers, students, family cases, including unmarried partner and marriage visas, settlement and applications for British citizenship.

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