Given the lockdown restrictions over the festive period last year, many grandparents will not have seen their grandchildren during this special time and will be looking forward to being able to do so this year and now that restrictions have eased.
However, for grandparents who have a child(ren) that have separated, Christmas can be a difficult time of year, regardless of Covid, when it comes to spending precious time with their grandchildren.
The family team at Mogers Drewett often get asked what rights grandparents have to see their grandchildren when their parents have separated.
The law and legal process
Unlike the children’s parents, grandparents have no automatic legal right to see their grandchildren. Grandparents seeking to establish or maintain contact with their grandchildren following a separation have two options open to them.
- Agreement with parents – be that directly, at mediation or via solicitors
- An application to Court for a Child Arrangements Order
For grandparents, an application to Court is often a longer and as a result more expensive 2-stage process, as they will need to request permission from the court to make an application in the first place.
Court proceedings are the last resort and wherever possible you should try and reach an agreement with the parents.
Tips for the Christmas period
Given that Christmas often becomes a very emotive time of year, with separated parents themselves often finding it hard to agree arrangements, communication and discussions early on is key.
Don’t take sides
Whilst communication with the parents can be difficult, try not to take sides and remain neutral. The festive period can be a stressful and hectic time for parents and so offering some respite to both parents during the holidays can provide them with support and also allow you to spend time with your grandchildren.
If seeing your grandchildren on Christmas Day itself is not possible, explore other opportunities for contact in the lead up to Christmas and in the New Year. It may be that you pick a day and treat is as your Christmas Day where you exchange Christmas gifts and have festive treats. There may also be opportunity to attend school plays/carol concerts this year as restrictions ease.
If seeing your grandchildren in person is not possible, perhaps due to location, then make arrangements for a skype/zoom or telephone call where, for example, watch them unwrap your Christmas present and play games remotely.
If you are not able to reach an agreement before the Christmas break and would like some advice on your rights as a grandparent, the Mogers Drewett family team are here to help and offer a fixed fee initial consultation. You can contact Victoria Cobham on 01749 342 323 or email Victoria.firstname.lastname@example.org