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Grandparents' rights

Show notes

Fiona Davidson looks at grandparents' rights to see their grandchildren and how the court deals with court applications brought by grandparents who have a dispute or concern about a child.


Welcome to Weightmans. My name is Fiona Davidson, I'm a partner in our national team of family law solicitors and we're here to help you.

This is one of a series of question and answer podcasts that we've produced for parents to help them resolve disputes about their children on or after relationship breakdown.

Today we're looking at how the court deals with court applications brought by grandparents who have a dispute or concern about a child.

A grandparent has no automatic 'legal right' to see their grandchildren, if you cannot reach agreement with the parents of your grandchildren you may want to explore non-court-based dispute resolution options, this is discussed in another of our podcasts.

You might also be able to ask the court to assist in making arrangements by applying for a Child Arrangements Order. Usually, you will need the permission, which is also called 'leave of the court', to make an application and if successful the court would then consider the main application.

There are certain circumstances where a grandparent does not need the court's permission to apply for a Child Arrangements Order, and these include where the grandparent already has a 'lives with order' or a 'residence order' in respect of a child, or for example, if the child has been living with a grandparent for more than three years.

Making an application for a Child Arrangements Order, court procedures and the law applied are all explained in other podcasts that we have produced.

The court will normally address the issue of leave which is the permission at the first hearing, whether or not leave or permission to proceed with your application for child arrangements is granted will depend on a number of factors including; the nature of the application, the grandparent’s connection to the child and, the risk of the child that granting the substantive application which would disrupt his or her life to the extent that he or she would be harmed by it.

As explained in our earlier podcast, the court will likely require all the concerned parties to file statements and they may instruct CAFCASS to speak to the parties and to the children involved, depending on their age and maturity, so that they can report to the court on whether it is in the children's best interests to spend time with the grandparent and on the frequency and nature that the contact may take.

Assuming that the court is given permission for such an application to be made the judge will then apply the Children Act 1989 welfare checklist to make their decision and they will take into account for example the age of the child, their wishes and feelings and, any harm the child may be at risk of suffering. The paramount consideration however will always be the child's welfare.

Often agreement can be reached between the parties either at court or through negotiations but if not, the court will hear evidence and ultimately will impose a final order.

Thank you for listening, if I or any of my colleagues in the Weightmans family team can help further, please do get in touch and you will find our details at the end of this podcast. When you need support with a family dispute, we'll look to resolve it sensitively yet robustly through constructive communication. We will always help you to search for solutions which reduce conflict and cost whether your case requires complex litigation or a non-court based approach.