Grandparents often play a very special role in children’s lives. Some grandparents are closely involved with their grandchildren, while others are able to grandparent from a distance, if their children live far away.
Through mediation or settlement negotiations with your children and their spouse, you may be able to agree on arrangements about the time you spend and communication you have with your grandchildren. The agreement you reach can be included in a written agreement called a Parenting Plan which is between your children and their spouse. A Parenting Plan is not legally binding or enforceable but will be considered by a Court, if there are later difficulties.
If you have been prevented from seeing your grandchildren, you are able to use the Family Law Act 1975 to apply to the Court seeking orders in relation to time you spend with your grandchildren. This can include communication with them, or in some circumstances seeking an order that they live with you. As a grandparent, you're able to do this whether the parents of the children are together or separated.
What often occurs when a family unit breaks down is that the grandparents will be able to spend time with their grandchildren only when their son or daughter is spending time with them. The Family Law Act 1975 recognises the importance of children having a relationship with their extended family members, including grandparents, however, what is in the best interests of the child will remain the Court’s priority. While grandparents do not have an automatic right to spend time with their grandchildren, the child has a right to continue to spend time with their grandparents especially if they are close. Unless there are allegations of abuse or violence, it would be unusual for the Court not to make an order for a child to spend time with their grandparent. Among the factors that the Court will consider is the nature of the relationship between the grandparent and child including whether it is ongoing and of significant value to the child.
You can find out more by contacting Etheringtons Solicitors.