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Ask The Legal Expert - Grandparents Rights During Divorce

View profile for Angela Killa
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My son and daughter-in-law are going through a very heated divorce. We have tried hard to stay neutral but, despite this, our daughter-in-law is refusing to let us see our 8-year-old grand-daughter, who we are very close to and who, frankly, we feel needs our support. What can we do?

When feelings run high it can be hard for the wider family to avoid getting caught in the crossfire. If you have any contact with your daughter-in-law I suggest you approach her in a calm, kind and non-judgmental way.

It may be that the stress of the divorce and the resulting practical issues, have got on top of her. Offer yourselves as helpers who can support her in caring for her daughter. Of course, this can be a tough tightrope to walk, particularly if you don’t want to alienate your son, but explain to him you’re taking this approach for the good of the family.

Keep a detailed record of any contact with your daughter-in-law and of what was said, as well as keeping a note of any time that you are able to spend with your grandchild, in the event that reference is needed to it in possible court proceedings.

If approaching your daughter-in-law in this way doesn’t work, your daughter-in-law might be open to mediation, since it could make her life easier. The Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting (MIAM) can help families co-operate in cases like these and is less expensive and less traumatic than going to court.

Your last resort is to apply to the family court for a Child Arrangements Order (CAO) Under Section 8 of the Children Act 1989.

Because you don’t have parental responsibility for your grandchild, you need permission from the Court to proceed with your application. In deciding this, the court will look at the nature of your application, your connection with the child and any risk there might be to your grand-daughter if the application progresses. If the Court is happy to hear your case it will do all it can to resolve it.

Although there is no presumption in law that grandparents have a legal right to contact with grandchildren, a court will consider what is in the child’s best interests. Courts consider that grandparents often play an important role in a child’s upbringing.

For more information, please contact Angela on: angela.killa@jcpsolicitors.co.uk, or: 01267 248893.

For further advice, please contact our specialist Family Solicitors in:

  • Swansea: 01792 773773
  • Cardiff: 02920 225472
  • Carmarthen: 01267 234022
  • Caerphilly: 02920 860628
  • Cowbridge: 01446 771742
  • Haverfordwest: 01437 764723
  • Fishguard: 01348 873671
  • Pontypridd: 01443 408455

The question posed is based upon a hypothetical situation.

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