In 2013, around 9,500 couples in Scotland divorced. Research carried out by a group of family focused charities unveiled that in around 40 percent of cases, one set of grandparents ends up losing contact with their grandchildren when their parents divorce.
It is an unfortunate fact that each year in Scotland, thousands of grandparents lose contact with their grandchildren through events out with their control. Often grandparents provide a great deal of emotional and financial support to a child and play a vital role in their lives only to have that role taken away from them in the wake of separation. However, if you find yourself in this unfortunate situation, there are avenues available to you to make sure you can still maintain contact with your grandchildren.
Do I have any rights in law to contact with my children?
Despite the sad statistics highlighted above, the law makes no provision for grandparents to have contact with their grandchildren. There is no presumption of visitation rights, or automatic legal right to see your grandchildren should their parent’s separate. However, it is possible to attain a court order to ensure such contact should the court find it in the child’s best interests.
What should I do if I am concerned about contact with my grandchildren?
Court should be a last resort for having contact with your grandchildren. Firstly you should attempt to negotiate with the child’s parents.
It may be worth pointing out to the parents that you could be a free childcare resource and save them a lot of money. Many parent’s rely on grandparent’s to look after children whilst they are at work, it may be that they do not realize what they are missing out on in denying you contact with the child or children.
You should not let too long pass without contact with your grandchildren. This could make it easier for the opposition to argue that the children have forgotten you and that it would be too upsetting or confusing to reintroduce you into their lives. Whilst these arguments may be unsuccessful, it is better to avoid having them.
If negotiation with the parent does not work, it is also possible to enter into mediation to discuss the best interests of the child. Mediation allows parties to discuss concerns and flexible solutions to contact issues. Furthermore, if the child is old enough and mature enough to properly express their views, the mediator will encourage both sides to take these views into account. Usually, parties are able to come to a mutually agreeable decision, however if not you may need to make an application for a court order.
How do I attain a court order?
The UK government has produced a Charter for Grandchildren that makes clear the very important and valuable role that grandparents can play in a child’s life, but it does not set out contact rights for grandparents. However, the courts recognize the role grandparents have to play in a child’s development and how they can help maintain links with wider family giving the child stability.
In almost all cases, regular and consistent contact with grandparents can be greatly beneficial to the child and the court will recognize that children should always have the right to see their grandparent’s under these circumstances. Under the law of Scotland, a grandparent may make an application to the court for contact with a grandchild or grandchildren. The court considers the same test as when a natural parent seeks contact with their child in that the welfare of the child is the court’s paramount consideration. The court will make an order only if it considers it would be better for the child to have the order made than for no order to be made. The court may also take into account the views of the child depending on their age and level of maturity.
Contact Gibson Kerr Family Solicitors
As well as the expertise, confidentiality and professionalism you’d expect, Gibson Kerr give you a more attentive, personal approach. In addition to legal services we also offer a professional mediation service. For legal advice or mediation services from our family solicitors based in Stockbridge in Edinburgh regarding issues with children and separation or divorce, or any other aspects of family law in Scotland, please click here or calling us in Edinburgh today on 0131 516 5519 or in Glasgow on 0141 530 2841.