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Grandparents can play a particularly important role in caring for their grandchildren post separation.
Sadly there is an increasing number of circumstances where one or both of the grandparents are required to care for their grandchildren, because one or both of the parents have a drug or alcohol addiction, mental health difficulties, a parent is in jail or other issues which affect their capacity to provide a safe environment for their children. Our lawyers are now regularly appearing in court due to these circumstances. This is a challenging set of circumstances for the grandparents to navigate, weighing up how to best protect the interests of their grandchildren, without causing unintentional harm to their relationship with their own children.
These are the most common reasons grandparents seek advice from the lawyers in our firm. However grandparents often have concerns even when both parents are involved in caring for their children.
Resolving disputes between parents and grandparents
Following separation grandparents are often left to question where they stand regarding the care arrangements for their grandchildren. These issues can be resolved in a number of ways:
- Informal arrangements directly with the parents (in particular the parent who the child lives with);
- Mediation – arrangements reached at mediation;
- Negotiation – arrangements reached with the assistance of a solicitor;
- Application to Court – where no arrangement can be reached via other means.
Some families are able to reach informal agreements with grandparents to enable them to spend some time with the children while they are in the care of the related parent. However, sometimes negotiations break down and grandparents are not afforded regular contact with their grandchildren. Under the Family Law Act grandparents have what is called ‘standing’ to request time with grandchildren.
The sooner you can get advice, the sooner you know where you stand and how best to proceed in the unique circumstances of your own grandchildren. Please do not hesitate to contact our office should you have any queries.