Justice Minister Lucy Frazer QC has agreed to review the rules relating to grandparents seeking access to their grandchildren after separation or divorce. Currently there is no legal presumption to such access, with the law requiring grandparents to apply to the family court to secure access rights and then request a child arrangement order to secure contact.
The same promise to review grandparents’ contact rights was made by the government in 2011, after the Family Justice Review was launched with a view to improving the family court. Grandparents in the UK had hoped that the outcome of the Review would support a change in the law. Instead, the Review’s final report recommended that legislation requiring grandparents to ask for leave to apply for contact should remain in place to prevent what it called hopeless or vexatious applications not in the interests of the child. (P.21).
Grandparents’ groups in the UK have been campaigning for over a decade to make the law and policy around post separation contact easier for grandchildren to see their grandparents. Nigel Huddleston MP will be meeting with the Minister to discuss how to change the law this month, though it’s not clear why the MP for Mid Worcestershire has come forward.
Lucy Frazer told The Express in December that she would be exploring ways to keep the grandparent-grandchild relationship alive after separation and divorce:
“Grandparents play an important role in the lives of their grandchildren, and I sympathise with those who experience the anguish of being prevented from seeing their grandchildren if a parental relationship ends.
“I am looking at what measures the Government could take to help more grandchildren maintain contact with grandparents following parental separation and will make an announcement about the Government’s plans in due course.”