The importance of grandparents

Lydia Andrews, Family Children Divorce Solicitor at WSP Solicitors Stroud

Lydia Andrews – Family Solicitor

Recent news suggests that the number of court applications made by grandparents so they can spend time with their grandchildren is increasing dramatically. The Grandparents Association have said that they are receiving a large number of calls from grandparents who have been denied time with their grandchildren.

The law says that the question of who a child should spend time with should be based primarily on the child’s best interests, not the parents’ or the grandparents’. Within this, a number of factors are considered including: the child’s wishes; the child’s needs, including their emotional needs; the child’s age, sex and background; any harm the child may be at risk of suffering; how capable the parents and grandparents are of meeting the child’s needs; and, importantly, the effect of any change of circumstances on the child.

It is therefore all about looking at each specific child individually and thinking about what is best for them. Grandparents are seen as important relatives in a child’s life, but there is no specific presumption in law that a child should have a relationship with them.

So what should you do if you are faced with this problem? If a child has always had a relationship with a grandparent then ending that relationship because of a family breakdown is probably not in the best interests of the child. If a child has never had a relationship with a grandparent, perhaps think about why and whether it would now be good for the child to get to know their extended family. Good grandparents can be a fantastic support for separating parents and for children, they may be able to give a stable environment to a child whose world has been turned upside down at home, and they can help to teach a child about their background and history.

If you are struggling to know what to do next, going to see a family solicitor could help. Family solicitors should not rush straight to court, but instead should start by talking you through the ways to reach a resolution together. Court is always there if you need it, but getting good advice first may save you time, money and heartache later on.
For legal advice on this topic or any other family legal matter please email or call 01453 847200 to discuss your personal circumstances.

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