What are Grandparents’ rights to contact with their grandkids?

When families suffer a breakdown, grandparents can sometimes find themselves excluded from seeing their grandchildren. We are frequently asked what avenues are available to grandparents when they have been denied contact with their grandchildren.

In general, the parents of a child have an automatic right to make an application under the Children (Northern Ireland) Order 1995. However, in cases where grandparents apply for contact, they must first seek permission from the Court to bring an application, unless the child has lived with them for a period of time immediately preceding the issue of the application.

If the Court grants permission for the application to be granted, The Court will then proceed to consider in more general terms the grandparent’s application for contact. The Court will consider all the circumstances of the case and, as with any application for a Court Order, the child’s welfare will be the paramount consideration for the Court in determining whether a contact should be granted.

Whilst the Courts are aware of the importance of the relationship between a grandparent and grandchild, there is no presumption that contact with a grandparent will be in the child’s best interests. It is a matter for the grandparent to demonstrate to the Court that that it is in the best interests of their grandchild that contact should occur.

In some cases, The Court may ask a social worker, known as a Court Children’s Officer, to speak to your grandchild in order to establish what their views are in relation to having contact with you.  The views of the parents, or others holding parental responsibility, will also be sought in respect of contact and they will be party to proceedings.

Whilst it may be a relief for grandparent’s to know that, should they be denied contact with their grandchildren, they are able to seek a remedy from the Court, sometimes when relations have broken down negotiations aimed detailing why a contact between grandparent and grandchild is so important and defusing the tension of the situation may be all that’s needed.

If you are a grandparent and you would like and you are not happy with the contact arrangements regarding your grandchildren, contact our office to arrange an appointment with an experienced family law solicitor who will be able to assist you on enquiries@hhdsolicitors.com or 028 90770770