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Divorce and Grandparents Rights

View profile for Steven Payne
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How do I maintain my relationship with my grandchildren when their parents' divorce?

When a marriage breaks down, it is usual for the parents to discuss the arrangements for their children. Grandparents however, are often overlooked, leaving them confused about their right to continue seeing their grandchildren. As it stands, grandparents have no automatic rights under the law in this respect. This can be an upsetting situation, and one of the biggest concerns for grandparents is how they can maintain a role in the lives of their grandchildren and ensure that they do not lose this important relationship.

In many cases, once the anger and upset relating to the breakdown in the marriage has calmed down, the whole family can be involved in discussions and arrangements agreed. If however this does not happen, as a concerned grandparent, you may wish to consider mediation, and, as a last resort, a Court application in order to ensure that you do not lose your relationship with your grandchildren.

MEDIATION

The best method, where informal discussions have failed, is Mediation. Family Mediation allows you to sit down with all other family members involved, and with an unbiased and well trained professional Mediator who will help you to reach balanced decisions about the arrangements for the children, to include the time that they are to spend with their grandparents.

The aim of Mediation is to create a calm environment for discussion hopefully leading to sensible decisions. The Mediator can ensure that discussions take place with as little conflict as possible, relying upon their specialist training in the resolution of family disputes. They will ensure that the interests of the children are always at the forefront of the decision making process.

A further benefit of Mediation is that it is usually cheaper than going through the Courts, as well as being quicker. It is also likely to be much less stressful for all those involved, and is likely to be less confrontational.

APPLYING TO THE COURT

If you think that Mediation is not the right option in your case, or if other parties are unwilling to participate, you may wish to consider Court proceedings. You should be aware that, as a grandparent, you have no automatic right to apply to the Court, and you must first seek the Court's permission to make your application. This will be determined on the particular circumstances of your case, and, in particular, the extent of your previous connection and relationship with your grandchildren. If you are granted permission, you may then seek a Child Arrangements Order which will specify when and how much time the children are to spend time with you.

Although this can be a lengthier process and cost more money, it can be the only solution where one of the parents is opposed to you maintaining a relationship with your grandchildren. However, it should always be considered only as a last resort, when everything else has failed.

The family team at Gepp & Sons has decades of experience in these and other family law issues and can help both with Mediation and Court applications, where appropriate. For a free initial assessment of your position please contact us today, either by ringing 01245 228106 or by email family@gepp.co.uk.