Solent Family Mediation presents the ultimate guide to grandparents’ rights in the UK .

When their children get a divorce or their relationship falls apart and there are grandkids involved, grandparents may find themselves ostracised and left on the outside of the family. When this occurs, few grandparents are aware of their alternatives. This comprehensive reference to grandparent rights will address all of your questions about maintaining contact with your grandkids.

You would do anything to prevent being separated from your grandkids because it is heartbreaking. As a grandmother, you may wonder, “Do I have any rights to visit my grandchildren?” Simply simply, if the court finds in your favour. But the state is much more concerned with the children‘s rights to having a happy and satisfying relationship with their grandparents.

Even if the parents cannot agree on plans for their children, grandparents can and should make their own arrangements with both sides of the family to visit their grandkids.

WHAT are my rights as a grandparent?

You do not automatically have the right to visit your grandkids. If you are unable to reach an agreement with the parents, you have the right to seek approval from the family court. You will be entitled to petition to court under the Children Act if they grant you permission, which is unlikely to be legitimately rejected (1989). Once the initial application has been filed, the court will establish a hearing date and ask all parties with parental responsibility to appear. The court will carefully evaluate your existing relationship with the children and theirs with you. Based on this, they will determine how and when to establish a relationship between the children and their grandparents.

If you have never had contact with your grandchildren or have seldom visited them, the court will be less inclined to issue an instant order. To incorporate you into their life, a stepping-stone structure may be implemented.

If you have a close relationship with your grandkids and can provide specifics about that relationship, the court is more likely to issue an injunction. You must describe the role you played in the lives of your grandkids until you stopped seeing them in your application.

HOW SHOULD I KEEP IN CONTACT WITH MY GRANDCHILDREN?

1.Try to keep communication. If feasible, you should initially attempt to keep touch with your grandkids. Maintain contact with the parents and let them know you’re there for both of them. Your goal is not to take a side, but rather to offer support to all parties at this tough time. If this talk is tough to have in person, consider drafting an email or letter instead.

Explain how much you miss your grandkids (and how much they must miss you), how eager you are to offer emotional and practical help, and why you don’t want to cease being a part of the family. Suggest that your grandchildren be asked how they feel about keeping contact with you. Depending on the amount of dispute, this may not be successful, therefore you may not obtain a good reaction.

2.The Solent Family Mediation Service. If the initial strategy fails, you should attempt Solent Family Mediation. A mediator will be able to assist both parties in reaching a satisfactory resolution. To accomplish this, you must schedule a Mediation Information & Evaluation Meeting (MIAM). The mediator will take notes, explain the mediation process, and describe the various forms of mediation while you present your case with them.

After determining that mediation is an appropriate course of action, the mediator will invite the parents to mediation in writing. If accepted, students must additionally attend an MIAM. After both parties have completed an MIAM, the mediator will formulate a plan for your joint mediation session. This can be accomplished online through video or in person.

If it turns out that mediation is ineffective, the mediator will produce a mediation certificate so that you can petition the court for a child arrangements order.3.

3.The family court This is the final choice, but sometimes it’s the only way to maintain your relationship with your grandkids.

To initiate this procedure, you must file a C100 application with the court and collect documentation of your present or past relationship with your grandkids.

WHAT CAN I DO IMMEDIATELY TO KEEP IN CONTACT?

You can keep indirect communication as much as possible at this time. If you attempted to continue face-to-face contact but were unable, discuss your plans with the parents. However, keeping indirect touch with your grandkids will depend on their age. If kids are old enough to utilise mobile devices and computers, you can text and video contact them on a regular basis.

If that is not possible, write them a note to let them know you are still there and that you care. The letter should be impartial and centred on the kid, not the disagreement; thus, communicate with them as usual. Inquire about their school, their friends, their interests, etc. You may also attach photographs of yourself in action or little gifts. Also, make copies of your correspondence.’

WHAT CAN I DO IF MY SON IS NOT LISTED ON THE BIRTH CERTIFICATE OF MY GRANDCHILD?

If this is the case, it can be quite challenging to deal with, and you will need legal counsel to understand your alternatives. Your son has parental responsibility only if he and his partner were married at the time of the birth of your grandchildren, or if his name appears on the birth certificate. Your son may apply to the court at any time for parental responsibility, which would not be rejected unless it was demonstrated he posed a safety danger to the kid.

HOW DO I APPLY TO COURT FOR GRANDCHILD CONTACT?

Family court is always the last resort since it may be a costly and emotionally and psychologically taxing affair. You may easily spend between £2,000 and £5,000 on attorneys or advocates to prepare for your court hearing. Not to add that hearings entail costs as well.

However, if this is your only alternative, be sure to request set costs for certain phases of the procedure when you speak with attorneys. This manner, you can better manage your cash. You can also represent yourself, which is becoming increasingly prevalent. Don’t be scared to seek assistance during the family court procedure.

DO I AUTOMATICALLY HAVE THE RIGHT TO APPLY AS A GRANDPARENTS?

No, you are not automatically entitled to your grandkids. However, the family court recognises the significance of grandparents in the lives of their grandchildren. The court will approve authorization if you have a relationship with them and there is no history of abuse, violence, or neglect. Here’s how everything works

1.Informational and Evaluation Mediation Meeting (MIAM)

If you want to file a lawsuit, you must first explore mediation with a family mediator. In the event of failure, the mediator will issue a mediation certificate allowing you to file a court application. This MIAM costs £115 with Mediate UK if you desire to try mediation, or £99 if you feel mediation is unsuitable and wish to go to court immediately.

2.Application for C100

The C100 application form is available online or for download here. Here is a comprehensive tutorial on how to complete the form. On this form, you must request permission to apply from the court. Keep in mind that children are always at the centre of this process, so concentrate on why your grandkids should communicate with you rather than vice versa. Respond to the question: What do the youngsters gain from interacting with you? The application cost is £215, which must be paid to the court. If you have a low income or receive benefits, you may be eligible for fee assistance.

3.Children and Family Court Support and Advisory Service (CAFCASS)

The family court will determine if you can have contact with your grandkids and, if so, what type of contact would be most advantageous for them. There are both indirect (letters, phone conversations, etc.) and direct forms of communication (face to face meetings).

The court appoints a CAFCASS Wellbeing Consultant who will communicate with all involved. The officer will examine all concerns regarding the welfare of the relevant youngsters. Then, they will submit a report to the court in order for it to make a determination. The CAFCASS report will be distributed to the relevant parties. If the report strongly advises that contact be permitted, you might request to visit your grandkids from their parents. The following step, if not, is a court hearing.

4.Legal Proceedings

Family court is not comparable to criminal court, so do not be concerned about your next court appearance. They all simply wish to assist families. This implies that the setting is far more favourable, as the procedure is not focused on determining whether someone is innocent or guilty. Everyone in court recognises that the child is at the core of all of this, drastically altering your expectations.

You, the applicant, and the parents of the children, the respondent, will both present evidence at the court hearing. You must emphasise the role you’ve played in your grandchildren’s lives and the bad impact your absence will have on them.

When making a judgement, the court will take the CAFCASS findings into consideration. If it’s in the best interest of the children, the court will issue an order allowing you to maintain contact, outlining the type of contact you’ll be permitted to have from this point forward.

WHAT IF PARENTS REFUSE TO ACCEPT THE COURT ORDER?

This can occur, and when it does, it is quite annoying. If the parents disobey the court order, you can return to court to explain the parents’ violation. The family court will then execute the order and perhaps penalise the parents for first disobeying the court order.

CASE STUDY: GRANDPARENTS’ RIGHTS INVOLVING MEDIATION

Richard and Florence’s connection with their three grandkids, ages 12, 8, and 5, was affectionate and warm. When their son and Emma’s stepdaughter split, they provided financial assistance for their son’s legal bills, and the divorce was nasty and fought. Emma was enraged with Richard and Florence because they had paid the legal bills for the divorce and she believed that by doing so, they had contributed to the dissolution of the marriage. They had not seen their grandkids in seven months, which was the longest period of time they had ever gone without seeing them.

Richard and Florence had a wonderful connection with the other set of grandparents before to their divorce, but since then, they have not communicated with Emma and have refused any attempts at contact. Their youngster struggled with the parenting arrangements on his own. Everything was a bit of a mess.

Together with Mediate UK, Richard and Florence attended an MIAM. The mediator then invited Emma to mediation by letter. Emma consented because she did not want to seem bad in court, but stated that she was not willing to allow the children to visit their grandparents unattended due to her concern that they might say unpleasant things about her to the children, which would be damaging to their wellness.

After Emma’s MIAM, the mediator asked everyone to a face-to-face meeting. With the assistance of the mediator and through our continuous mediation, they each had the opportunity to speak up and future aspirations. They swiftly decided on a strategy to reintegrate Richard and Florence into the lives of their grandkids. Within a month of their MIAM, Richard and Florence were assisting with the grandchildren’s care, which benefited Emma, themselves, and the grandkids, and the family has begun to restore relationships.

CONCLUSION

It is unfortunate that many grandparents in England and Wales must endure separation from their grandchildren owing to divorce, separation, or conflict with their own children.

Many of them go directly to a family attorney, but their first stop, if they are unable to resolve it amongst themselves, is mediation.

They should serve as a family mediator. The UK’s grandparent access laws let you to keep in touch.

involving your children Although these rights are not automatic, you can seek the assistance of a family mediator in an effort to resolve the conflict.

If that fails, the next step is family court. If you can demonstrate that your connection with your grandkids is beneficial to them, an order will likely be issued enabling you to maintain your loving relationship with them.

Dial 0238 161 1051 to reach Solent Family Mediation Reading .

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