I recently heard about a Worcester grandmother who was so upset at the closure of a support group set up her own group for grandparents separated from their grandchildren.
It is a very said state of affairs that grandparents have to have support groups of this kind as they should quite properly have contact to their grandchildren.
Being a parent myself, I understand the help, love and support a grandparent can offer a child and this is something which we should encourage.
Unfortunately, some parents can use the restriction of contact as a weapon against a grandparent following the breakup of a relationship. As the law currently stands there is no automatic right to a child to have an ongoing relationship with a grandparent. That may put some grandparents off making any application. However, help is out there. Through solicitor lead negotiation and the process of mediation relationships between grandparents and grandchildren are being rebuilt.
When all avenues have been exhausted, the court is there to help. The application itself is not as daunting as it may first appear.
In order for the Court to consider an application the grandparent firstly needs to apply to the Court for permission. So what is needed for permission to be granted? The grandparent must show that there is an existing relationship between them and the child which has broken down.
Secondly, the Court needs to ensure that the relationship will not negatively impact on the child. Therefore, only in cases where there is a risk posed to the child or high levels of distress or reluctance in respect of the child will this be an issue.
Lastly the Court needs to be satisfied that the application is not vexatious – in that there must be a genuine motivation behind the application. Provided these criteria are fulfilled permission should then be granted to apply to the court for an Order the same way that a parent would.
Grandparents should not despair as the Courts can help and with the assistance of a solicitor the contact their grandchildren so desperately need can be achieved.