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Sadly under the current law, grandparents do not have in principle a legal right to have a continued relationship with their grandchildren. Under the Children Act 1989, as amended by the Children and Families Act 2014, the parents of the child/children in question (including steps parents) have an automatic right to issue an application for a child arrangements order setting out with whom and when the child is to spend time or otherwise have contact. In addition, those persons having cared for the child/children in question for a period in excess of 3 years also have an automatic right to issue an application for a Child Arrangements Order.
In the event that grandparents are unreasonably denied spending time or otherwise having contact with their grandchildren and arrangements cannot be agreed directly with the parents, it will be necessary, in the first instance to attend a Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting (MIAM) with a mediator to try and resolve the issues, unless an exemption applies.
If mediation fails to resolve the dispute then an application can be made to the Court for a Child Arrangements Order subject to the Court granting “leave” (permission) to the grandparents to file their application for a Child Arrangements Order.
Effectively the grandparents will have to show that they have a meaningful relationship with the child/children and that they have an important connection with them.
Once leave is granted by the Court the application will proceed on the same basis as any other application before the Court for a Child Arrangements Order under the Children Act 1989, subject to amendments made by the Children and Families Act 2014.
Please refer to our pages on Child Arrangements Orders for more details/information in relation to the same.
Should you require any further advice and/or assistance in relation to securing an agreement/Court Order regarding your rights as a grandparent, please contact us.