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Grandparents' Access

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There are over one million children across the UK who are denied contact with their grandparents, due to family breakdown. This can be as a result of separation/divorce, alcohol/drug issues, domestic violence issues, bereavement or family feud.

As with so many experiences in life, you have no idea that this can happen to you, until it does.

I was denied contact with my granddaughter in 2007, we had been a big part of her life for seven years, and when my son and his wife divorced , contact was stopped.

A grandparent has no automatic legal right to see their grandchildren.

It is possible to go down the legal route, you have to apply for leave, to apply for a contact order, and then apply for an order. I have to say that I never advise grandparents to go down the legal route, firstly because it is a very emotional, stressful ordeal, and very costly. I have grandparents in my group who have spent their entire life savings on going to court, and still no contact.

One issue is that even if a contact order is agreed, should the resident parent decide not to turn up at the agreed time and place, you are back to square one and back to court.

For me I felt I just had to do something, and so I set up Bristol Grandparents Support Group, it took around 18 months to get going, I knew that there must be lots of grandparents feeling just like me locally, so I wrote letters to local newspapers, magazines, etc, I soon discovered that grandparents are so afraid of making the situation worse ,they are reticent in putting their head above the parapet. I gave it one last chance and wrote a letter with the headline, ‘Tea and Cake for the Grandchildren,” inviting grandparents who were denied contact to come and share a piece of cake and a cuppa, and it worked, the first meeting nine grandparents turned up.

Maybe the moral here, could be always involve cake?

So the seed was planted, and it has grown and grown, I give support over the phone, email via my website and at regular meetings.

I have to date been contacted by grandparents all over the UK, America, Israel, and beyond.

I now have grandparents who want to set up groups in their own areas, in Norfolk/Suffolk , London ,Yorkshire , Sussex, and continuing to grow. I am linking up with a lay Pastor in Virginia, America who is setting up a group.

I am very happy to support anyone who is interested in setting up a group.

There is no membership fee in becoming part of the group and I am independent from any other organization.

Not only do I have a website, where you can find lots of information but I write a blog which is where I am able to keep grandparents up to date with what is going on.

If you are a grandparent denied contact with your grandchildren then please get in touch, you are not alone.

Jane Jackson.

Bristol Grandparents Support Group-

www.bristolgrandparentssupportgroup.co.uk

http://bristolgrandparentssupport.blogspot.co.uk/

 

December 2011

Almost exactly 5 years ago our first grandchild was born. He has given so much pleasure, joy and hours of free entertainment. He now has a brother so we have double the fun! The thought of not being able to see them is too awful to contemplate.

I was therefore disappointed to read yesterday that David Norgrove, in his Family Justice Review, has recommended that fathers and grandparents should not be given any legal rights to see the children following a marriage break-up. We have witnessed the heartache caused to friends of ours when access was denied

Grandchildren often form very close bonds with their grandparents who invest huge amounts of time, emotion and often money in the relationship. This can be a source of great stability and continuity to children caught in the crossfire and turmoil of marriage break-up.

It is understandable that nobody would welcome lengthy and expensive custody disputes. We must put our trust in Ian Duncan Smith, the Works and Pensions Secretary who says he will ensure that the Government  does more to further the rights of fathers and grandparents . We must not underestimate the special relationship that can exist between children and their grandparents.

If you feel strongly about this, express your views to the Government via silverlinksnetwork. 

  • patronne

    Posted at 2012-05-01 13:53:12

    The Australian model seems to be an eminently sensible approach to these difficult problems which often arise as a result of Divorce proceedings. In such actions even the parents often do not realize how much their divorce actions can effect their children from the first relationship. Sometimes the new partner can feel insecure and so "prohibit" their partner from making contact with their existing children. It then depends upon the age and sensitivity of the children involved whether or not they, the children themselves, are emotionally disturbed by not seeing their Father or Mother.
    Other cases such as family feuds are not addressed by the example being set by Australia. Where grandchildren are denied access to their Grandparents and other extended family relationships through a breakdown in communication between the children's parents and their wider group of family members is an enormous problem for everyone involved. We the Grandparents can be presented with a mental torture knowing that our loved Grandchildren are missing out on such a lot of a relationship that could help them to develop special future skills and many develop many happy memories to carry with them throughout their lives.
    I am of the opinion that parents who do restrict the human rights of their own children by denying them contact with a parent, Grandparent, or any other person previously in a close and loving relationship with the child concerned should be considered guilty of a criminal act. This type of approach might enable an easing of the right of contact type of action and therefore lead to arrangements possibly through formal mediation rather than courts of justice that would facilitate the reintroduction of contact that was being denied for whatever reason.
    Brian Roberts

    Reply to comment

  • Christopher Richard Moreton

    Posted at 2011-11-08 11:38:01

    Perhaps the changes made to the Australian Family Law Act could provide a framework for the UK.

    The following text is from the findlaw.com.au website

    "The changes were introduced to address the common scenario where grandparents were cut out of their grandchildren’s lives after separation or divorce of the parents of the grandchild.

    What are my rights under the Family Law Act to see my grandchildren?

    The Family Law Act states that children have a right to spend time on a regular basis with, and communicate on a regular basis with, both their parents and other people significant to their care, welfare and development including grandparents.

    The Court is required to consider when determining what is in the best interests of the child the right of the child to spend time with their grandparents.

    In addition, when making certain orders concerning what is in the child’s best interests the court must consider:

    Other persons including any grandparent.
    The likely effect of any changes in the child’s circumstances, including the likely effect on the child of any separation from any grandparent with whom they have been living.
    The capacity of any other person, including any grandparent, to provide for the needs of the child, including emotional and intellectual needs.
    Do I need to go to Court to see my grandchildren?

    It is not always necessary to go to the Family Court to gain access to see and have a relationship with your grandchildren.

    The Family Law Act promotes the resolution of family law disputes by mediation which is where everyone sits down with a qualified mediator to attempt to resolve any conflict surrounding what is in the best interests of the child.

    The result of this early dispute resolution process often results in the parties reaching an agreement about grandparents spending time with their grandchildren. This agreement can be included in a Parenting Plan setting out where the child lives and when the child communicates or spends time with their parents and grandparents.

    In the event that no agreement is reached at mediation than it may be necessary to make an application to the Family Court seeking an order on when you can communicate or spend time with your grandchildren.

    The rights of grandparents under the Family Law Act are fairly new which is why it is best to seek qualified legal advice if you are a grandparent seeking communication and contact with your grandchildren. Expert family lawyers can explain the legal process involved in gaining contact with your grandchildren and your rights under the Family Law Act."

    Reply to comment

    • Jane Jackson

      Posted at 2012-04-30 14:36:53

      Perhaps the changes made to the Australian Family Law Act could provide a framework for the UK.

      The following text is from the findlaw.com.au website

      "The changes were introduced to address the common scenario where grandparents were cut out of their grandchildren’s lives after separation or divorce of the parents of the grandchild.

      When The Family Justice Review was being looked at, the government looked at the Australian model but decided against it.
      Parents will now be encouraged to write Parenting Agreements and within that agreement, couples will be encouraged to stress the importance of grandparents.
      The word used here is encouraged, if you have a conflict in the relationship it is not going to happen.
      Jane

      What are my rights under the Family Law Act to see my grandchildren?

      The Family Law Act states that children have a right to spend time on a regular basis with, and communicate on a regular basis with, both their parents and other people significant to their care, welfare and development including grandparents.

      The Court is required to consider when determining what is in the best interests of the child the right of the child to spend time with their grandparents.

      In addition, when making certain orders concerning what is in the child’s best interests the court must consider:

      Other persons including any grandparent.
      The likely effect of any changes in the child’s circumstances, including the likely effect on the child of any separation from any grandparent with whom they have been living.
      The capacity of any other person, including any grandparent, to provide for the needs of the child, including emotional and intellectual needs.
      Do I need to go to Court to see my grandchildren?

      It is not always necessary to go to the Family Court to gain access to see and have a relationship with your grandchildren.

      The Family Law Act promotes the resolution of family law disputes by mediation which is where everyone sits down with a qualified mediator to attempt to resolve any conflict surrounding what is in the best interests of the child.

      The result of this early dispute resolution process often results in the parties reaching an agreement about grandparents spending time with their grandchildren. This agreement can be included in a Parenting Plan setting out where the child lives and when the child communicates or spends time with their parents and grandparents.

      In the event that no agreement is reached at mediation than it may be necessary to make an application to the Family Court seeking an order on when you can communicate or spend time with your grandchildren.

      The rights of grandparents under the Family Law Act are fairly new which is why it is best to seek qualified legal advice if you are a grandparent seeking communication and contact with your grandchildren. Expert family lawyers can explain the legal process involved in gaining contact with your grandchildren and your rights under the Family Law Act."

      Reply to comment

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