We often assist grandparents who are deeply anxious about losing contact with their grandchildren when parents separate, so when we came across GransNet and the helpful advice they offer, we thought we would share it and cover some basic questions we are often asked, too.

Q. I’m a grandparent, do I have a legal right to see my grandchild?

A. In law, there is no automatic right to see your grandchild but you can apply for contact through the court system.  Grandparents have been campaigning for greater changes in the law, but the government has so far stopped short of legislating a right to contact when it comes to extended family members, which grandparents are considered to be. However, separating couples are encouraged to settle contact disputes out of court and to include contact arrangements for grandparents in any agreements they make.

Q. What kind of contact can I have?

A. Broadly speaking, there are two types of contact -direct and indirect. Direct contact offers face to face contact with grandchildren and can include time spent going for meals, doing activities or just enjoying their company in a home setting. Indirect contact does not offer face to face contact, and usually involves the sending of cards, letters and even phoning or Skyping. The kind of contact you experience may depend on any agreements reached, and what is in the best interests of any children involved.

Q. What if contact is denied?

A. It is always better to try to resolve conflict outside of the court arena first, if possible, so talking things through with parents, and showing them the importance of maintaining family ties can be a positive way to solve difficulties arising out of separation. If you find you have to go to court, you will need to fill out a C2 form, and pay the fees involved in issuing proceedings unless you are able to get a discount. 

You can access the page from GransNet here. The Grandparents’ Association  is also very helpful.