According to Age UK, two-fifths of over-50s providing regular care for their grandchildren feel the family would have struggled financially without their help. Indeed a Scottish Government survey on “Growing Up in Scotland” found that Grandparents are a key source of support for most families in Scotland where, for some age brackets, they provide up to 69% of childcare. The same report emphasised that grandchildren receive a full range of support including regular childcare, babysitting, taking on outings and providing financial or material support.
What seems clear is that Grandparents are important to children.
Estimates of how many grandparents lose contact with their grandchildren when their parents separate vary but it has been said that up to a million children lose touch with their grandparents as a result of separation or divorce (Grandparents Association estimate 2009).
So, what happens at Christmas if the parents are no longer together and grandparents have to fit in with what may already be complex arrangements to see the children?
Open up the lines of communication and keep the wellbeing of your grandchild at the centre of any discussions. Don’t react if you are being drawn into a conflict, remain open minded and don’t take sides. Be willing to mediate and only, if all else fails, should you resort to the courts.
There is no such thing as grandparent rights…unless the court grants those rights… and there are no guarantees.
The test applied by the court in deciding whether a person should exercise contact – (“access” was the former name for this) is the same for a grandparent as is for a parent. Is it in the best interests of a child for contact to be exercised? You should expect arguments on: should be exercised at all; how much should be exercised; where should it be exercised; and in particular in whose presence contact should or more often should not be exercised. All of this takes time and often a lot of money to resolve though legal aid is available for those who qualify.
Whilst there are no sure things in court actions, over the years we have had success in reuniting grandparents with their grandchildren even where their own child is not involved.
For more information or advice please call 0800 005 1755 and ask to speak with a member of our Family Law Team or email us at [email protected]