I think it is a national disgrace that grandparents are often the unchampioned losers when their children divorce.
Woolley & Co are contacted regularly by members of the older generations distraught that the close relationship they shared with their grandchildren has been shattered by divorce and family break-up. We even advise readers of Grandparents Times on the issue when they ask what their rights are regarding seeing their offspring’s children.
And the answer is always the same – they have no legal contact rights. If an estranged daughter-in-law, or son-in-law, is not so inclined, or if they move to a different area, there is nothing that a Granny or Grampy can do except make complicated applications to the Courts if they get permission.
As a result, an estimated one million grandchildren are denied contact to their grandparents. Could this be a contributing factor to “broken Britain”? The breakdown in social niceties going hand in hand with family break-ups that leave the older, wiser generation cut off from contact with the next generation? Not for me to say.
But it is heartening to see that moves appear to be on the cards to change this and ensure that grandparents can enjoy an ongoing relationship with their grandchildren no matter what happens to the family. It is, of course, only a small glimmer of hope, but a glimmer it is in nonetheless. Children’s Secretary Ed Balls did nothing more than suggest he would remove a legal obstacle to make it easier for grandparents to gain access when contact is denied after a family break-up.
The requirement that grandparents must seek leave from the courts before they can apply for contact will be binned. They will still have to win court approval if contact is denied, but at least it is a step in the right direction. Hopefully the first of many and not just lip-service as we career towards a general election.
Read more: The Law and grandparents rights