LEGAL EAGLE: My grandchildren’s dad won’t allow me contact with them
“The father of my grandchildren is refusing me contact with them – am I entitled to see them, and how do I go about it?”
As a grandparent, your rights are slightly different to the rights of the child’s parents. As a starting point, grandparents are not automatically entitled to spend time with their grandchildren in the same way that parents are.
This does not mean, however, that there is no legal option that you can explore to re-establish contact with your grandchildren.
As with all disputes of this type, you should try and resolve matters without going to court or taking any formal legal action.
One way of doing this could be to send a letter to your grandchildren’s father proposing some kind of arrangements for when you can see them.
If this does not work, and no informal agreement can be reached, then the next step is to attempt family mediation.
This involves contacting a family mediator, who will attempt to arrange a Mediation Information & Assessment Meeting (MIAM).
The mediator will then try and facilitate an agreement between you and the children’s parents.
If this is not successful (e.g. the children’s father fails to attend etc.) then the next step is to apply to court.
Whilst grandparents are not automatically entitled to apply to the court in the same way that parents are, they are entitled to first apply for permission to make an application to spend time with the children.
The court will consider things like your connection with the children, what sort of contact you want to establish, and whether there are any issues that might make contact between you and the children inappropriate.
If the court grants permission for you to apply, then it will go on to consider whether a Child Arrangements Order is needed – whereby the court decides who a child should spend time with and how often.
Anyone with parental responsibility for the children will respond to your application, and will be able to object to you spending time with the children if they wish to.
Ultimately, the court will decide what is in the children’s best interests when deciding who should have contact with them and how often.