Do grandparents have rights in the UK?
In the UK, grandparents do not have automatic legal rights to see their grandchildren.
However, they can apply for a court order to gain access or to become a child’s guardian (sometimes called “custody rights”) if it is in the best interests of the child.
The court considers various factors, such as the nature of the relationship and the child’s welfare, when considering grandparents’ rights to see grandchildren or to become their guardians.
Woolley & Co have specialist grandparents’ rights solicitors with extensive experience nationwide. We can assist with negotiating contact with grandchildren, as well as applying for court orders and have helped many grandparents successfully achieve and maintain contact with their grandchildren.
Talk to us about your rights and seeing your grandchildren
How our grandparents’ rights solicitors can help you
Grandparents are often shocked to learn that, in English law, they have no automatic rights to see or have contact with their grandchildren. However, it is often possible for grandparents to amicably agree with a child’s parents what relationship they should have with their grandchildren after a separation.
The first step for the grandparents who fear losing contact with their grandchildren should be to approach the child’s mother or father. You should explain that no matter what the problems are between the parents, you as a grandparent do not intend to take sides but that you only wish to maintain contact with your grandchildren.
However, it is frequently the case that the relationship with the parent or parents has broken down to such an extent that this is not practical or even possible.
In those circumstances, mediation is an option whereby an independent mediator will try and help you reach an agreement with the parents. For this to take place, both sides must agree to mediate. Woolley & Co can make referrals to mediation providers and will be glad to help you with this.
Sometimes, when relationships have broken down, a carefully drafted letter from your solicitor may be all that’s needed. This can help to defuse the tension of the situation and can work to explain why a grandparent feels contact is important.
How to apply for grandparents’ rights through the courts
If no progress can be made through these routes, then it is possible to make an application to the court to establish grandparents’ legal rights.
Family courts do recognise and will promote the invaluable role that grandparents play in their grandchildren’s lives. We can help you make applications to the court to try and arrange contact on a formal, legal basis.
Sometimes this will involve the appointment of a Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service (CAFCASS) officer to look at any welfare issues that need to be considered and to prepare a report to aid the court in coming to a decision.
For a grandparent to become the full time carer for a child, an application for a Special Guardianship Order may be made.
If an order is made, the court’s powers to enforce such orders make it extremely difficult for parents to ignore them.
They are, therefore, a very powerful way to ensure that grandparents can maintain a meaningful and fulfilling relationship with their grandchildren.
Frequently asked questions about grandparents’ rights
What legal rights do grandparents have in the UK?
In the UK, grandparents do not have automatic legal rights to see their grandchildren. However, they can apply for a court order under the Children Act 1989 if they are being denied contact
The court considers the best interests of the child when deciding on contact arrangements. Factors such as the nature of the relationship between grandparent and grandchild, the child’s welfare, and the parents’ views are taken into account.
While the court encourages maintaining family connections, the ultimate decision is based on what is deemed in the child’s best interests.
Who has more rights, maternal or paternal grandparents?
In the UK, there is no legal distinction between maternal and paternal grandparents’ rights to see their grandchildren.
The Children Act 1989 prioritises the best interests of the child when determining contact arrangements.
The court considers various factors, including the nature of the relationship between the grandparent and grandchild, the child’s welfare, and the parents’ views.
Both maternal and paternal grandparents can apply for a court order if they are being denied contact. The court’s decision will depend on individual circumstances, focusing on what is deemed best for the child’s overall well-being.
How much does it cost to get grandparents’ rights?
Applying to the court requires specialist help and advice and you will need to budget a minimum of £6,000 to make an application to the court, although costs may be less if agreement can be reached through mediation or negotiation. We can advise on costs for your particular case in our free half hour telephone appointment.
Contact our lawyers for grandparents’ rights
Woolley & Co have specialist grandparents’ rights solicitors with extensive experience of applying for court orders. We have helped many grandparents successfully achieve and maintain contact with their grandchildren.
Contact us for an initial half hour telephone appointment in which we will discuss your options and explain the likely process and costs involved.