How Do I Maintain Contact with My Grandchildren When Their Parents Separate?

Emma Alfieri
Emma Alfieri
Legal Director
Greene & Greene Solicitors

Many grandparents whose adult children separate from their spouses or partners suffer anguish, distress and loss when, through no fault of their own, they lose precious time with their grandchild(ren).

During their adult children’s separation, grandparents, can find themselves relying upon their son or daughter to arrange a time to see the grandchild(ren).  Additionally, if their relationship with their son or daughter is estranged, they may not see them at all.

Arranging visitation with the grandchild(ren)

The best option in this scenario is to try to negotiate with the parent in dispute, emphasising the importance of their role in their grandchildren’s lives. If discussions breakdown, grandparents should consider Mediation. This is a process where they and the children’s parents meet with a trained Mediator to discuss their role in their grandchildren’s lives and to work towards a routine of spending time with their grandchildren.

If negotiations and Mediation have not resulted in an amicable agreement being reached, the grandparents could make an application to the Court.  However, due to the fact grandparents do not have automatic legal rights to spend time with their grandchildren they must first apply for “leave” or permission from a Judge to apply to the Court.

The application for contact will only be considered by a Judge when both parents’ views upon the grandparents seeing the grandchild(ren) have been fully investigated.  In some circumstances a Cafcass (Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service) officer may be asked to provide a report to the Court.

Once the Judge has the views of both parents, possibly a Cafcass Report, the wishes and feelings of the child(ren) and has considered what they believe is in the child(ren)’s best interests, an Order for contact with the child(ren) may (or may not) be made.

In conclusion, informal agreements directly with the parents are the best option for grandparents. If not successful, then Mediation must be attempted before any Court Application is issued and Court Applications should be a last resort.

This article is only intended to be a summary and not specific legal advice.

Read more articles by Emma Alfieri.

About Emma Alfieri

Emma Alfieri is a Legal Director at Suffolk firm Greene & Greene Solicitors.

Emma advises on all aspects of family law, including divorce and associated financial matters, disputes between cohabitants and child related disputes.

A member of Resolution, Emma is committed to resolving disputes as positively and agreeably as possible whilst also being motivated to obtain the best possible outcome for her clients.

Since 2012 Emma has been consistently recommended by the Legal 500 on an annual basis and in the most recent 2024 edition Emma is ranked as a “rising star”.

As an advocate of fault free divorce, Emma lobbied at Parliament with other members of Resolution in 2016 to bring about the recent changes to divorce law.

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