Number of grandparents going to court to see their grandchildren continues to rise

Published: 12th April 2018

The latest figures, released by the Ministry of Justice, show that an increasing number of grandparents are going to court to secure the right to see their own grandchildren. Grandparents can play a significant role in the lives of their grandchildren and so iftheir own child and partner separate a difficult situation may arise with regard to access and contact with grandchildren, leading them to take relevant action.

A Stronger Relationship between Grandparent and Grandchild

In modern society, grandparents now play a much larger part in their grandchildren's lives, creating a much stronger, closer bond between them. Because childcare costs can often be expensive and in many cases are not affordable, grandparents are often relied on by parents to look after the children whilst they go to work. Add to this the fact that people are generally living longer and are able to see their grandchildren grow up; a stronger relationship is being developed between the two.

A grandparent who has played an active part in the lives of their grandchildren can find it very difficult if they are no longer able to have contact with them. Taking this relationship away can have a negative impact on both the grandparents and the grandchildren themselves.

The Findings from the Report

The Ministry of Justice report highlights that in 2016, there were nearly 2,000 applications for child arrangement orders made by grandparents. Applications for child arrangement orders, which grant a family member the right to see a child, have increased from 2014 when 1,617 applications were made.

The figures also show that there were over 1,000 applications made in the first half of 2017, which suggests that applications in 2017 are also likely to be higher than those of 2016, once they are released. Looking at the overall figures released in the report, it can be seen that private court applications that involved children rose by almost 15% between 2015 and 2017, from 45,490 to 52,168.

Experts have widely suggested that the parents of fathers are the most likely to lose contact with their grandchildren. It is likely that many of the applications were made by grandparents on the father’s side of the family, as they are less likely to see their grandchildren, particularly because fathers are typically not the ones that have custody of the child.

It is also thought that the number of related cases influenced by grandparents is likely to be higher than the figure shown, as many grandparents push parents to make applications on their behalf. Not only do grandparents create their own cases and make their own applications, but they also influence many of those made by parents, particularly as it would be much easier for a parent to obtain an order than a grandparent.

Legal Rights for Grandparents

Whilst legal rights for grandparents are somewhat limited, they do exist under the Children Act 1989. If a grandparent is being denied contact with their grandchildren, it is possible to obtain a contact order from the courts which will enable the grandparents to have contact with their grandchildren. In cases where there is a concern about a child's welfare, it is possible for grandparents to obtain a residency order from the courts.

If you are a grandparent and are in need of advice in relation to contact with your grandchildren then K J Smith Solicitors can help. Our team of family law specialists have many years of experience in dealing with matters relating to children and grandparents rights and will always try and resolve any issue in the most amicable way.

For more information or to arrange a free 45-minute consultation, please contact K J Smith Solicitors today on 01491 630000 (Henley on Thames), 020 7070 0330 (London), 0118 418 1000 (Reading), 01753 325000 (Windsor), 01256 584000 (Basingstoke) 01483 370100 (Guildford), 01494 629000 (Beaconsfield) or 01235 375500 (Abingdon).

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