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Do grandparents have rights to see their grandchildren?

As a grandparent you may be wondering if you have a right to see your grandchildren. Sadly, the answer is no and there is no change in the law expected in the near future.

This is despite the fact that:

  • There are nearly 14m grandparents in the UK
  • Over 65% of all grandparents look after their grandchildren regularly
  • In 2016 (the date of last available evidence), about 2,000 applications for Child Arrangement Orders were made by grandparents.

The best and most effective way to resolve any issues about seeing grandchildren is to try and reach an amicable agreement. Where this is not possible, grandparents can make an application for a Child Arrangements Order to the Family Court to see a grandchild, but the grandparent has to make an application for permission
to bring the application.

When determining whether to grant permission to bring the application, the Court will:

  • Consider the grandparents connection and relationship to the grandchild
  • Consider the nature of the application (what is being requested – is it to see the child/for how long and so on?)
  • Consider if there is a risk that the application could disrupt the child’s life.

In deciding what to do, a Court will always look at the relationship between a grandparent and grandchild, the frequency of contact and the significance of the grandparents involvement in the child’s life.

In addition to the request for permission,

  1. The grandparent can apply to the Court for a number of Child Arrangement Orders, in relation to a grandchild and these include that the child spends time with the grandparent (this used to be called access/contact) or that the child lives with the grandparent (this used to be called custody/residence).
  2. Special Guardianship Order – SGO
    A SGO appoints one or more people as a special guardian of the child, unless and until the child is 18 (unless it is changed by way of Court Order before then).
    The SGO has Parental Responsibility for the child and can make most of the decisions for the child (for example, where the child would live or go to school) without having to consult with the parents.
    A SGO means a child can keep ties with both the birth family, although the parents rights and responsibilities are reduced.

For more information contact the family department by email familygroup@rlo.law – telephone number 01633 867000 and/or speak to one of the family team.

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