Grandparents and family separation
When families break down, grandparents sometimes lose contact with their grandchildren. This can be for a number of reasons. Sometimes it’s because grandchildren move away which makes contact more challenging. Sometimes it’s offence taken about something said and then pride gets in the way.
Whatever the reason, dealing with the loss of your grandchildren in your life can be very difficult and upsetting.
Often, grandparents are able to talk to their grandchildren’s parents about this and even though parents may be going through court relating to contact issues, grandparents can successfully arrange contact with their grandchildren. This isn’t always the case.
Research shows that as much as 42% of grandparents and grandchildren lose contact with one another on family break down. This leaflet is to support you to deal with this issue:
- As a grandparent, you have no automatic right to have contact with your grandchildren. However, this does not mean that you have to accept without question the will of your grandchildren’s parent(s). Today, the role of grandparents is recognised as being very important in a child’s life, particularly if that relationship is already well established. Often the refusal of contact comes out of the blue as an unforeseen consequence of relationship breakdown or a family disagreement.
- If you can, talk with your grandchildren’s parent(s). Explain how important your relationship is with the child and the benefits you both received from that relationship.
- Remind their parents that you are interested in a relationship with your grandchildren, not in point scoring or taking sides.
- Suggest that the parents come to mediation to discuss the situation. Mediation will help you both focus on the children and what is best for them.
If the parents won’t come to mediation, you may apply to the court for permission to apply for a court order. If leave is granted you can ask the court to consider your application and make a Child Arrangement Order. A Child Arrangement Order defines what contact can take place between you and your grandchildren. The court will take into account the welfare of your grandchildren above your wants and needs. They will consider a wide range of factors including (depending on their age) the wishes and feelings of your grandchildren, the impact of any changes upon them and any risk or potential risk of harm there might be. Court orders must be obeyed and there are sanctions for not obeying them.
At Your Family First, we believe that mediation can help open the lines of communication between parents and grandparents who can be a source of enormous emotional support for a family. It allows you both to say what you think and feel and may also involve the children if appropriate. See our leaflet mediation and the voice of your child. For further support and advice, contact The grandparents’ Association .