• Jane Chandler


Grandparents can play an important role in the lives of children and sadly, it is sometimes the case that when couples separate, the grandparents are prevented from seeing their grandchildren. This may be due to a disagreement with their own child or the other parent. Not only can this be upsetting for the grandparents but the children who have been used to their grandparents playing an active part in their life may miss them at what can be a difficult time for them.

What to do if contact has been stopped.

If you have been prevented from having contact with your grandchildren it is sometimes possible to resolve the issues with the parent(s) by attending mediation and before taking the step of applying to court to see your grandchildren, it is necessary (subject to certain exemptions) to attend a Mediation Information and Assessment meeting to find out about mediation and see if it is suitable. Instructing solicitors to write to the parent(s) to see if they are willing to come to an agreement may assist in re-establishing contact.

Child Arrangement Order (CAO).

A CAO is an order that regulates who the child lives with, spends time with or otherwise has contact. Contact can be direct contact between the child and the person named in the order or it can be indirect contact such as cards or letters. Whilst the courts do recognise the importance of grandparents as part of the wider family, grandparents do not have an automatic right to apply for a CAO in respect of their grandchildren and in most cases will need to apply to the Court for permission to apply for an order to spend time or have contact with their grandchildren unless certain conditions are met, one of those conditions being that the grandchild has lived with them for a period of at least 3 years (which need not be continuous but must not have begun more than 5 years before, or ended more than 3 months before, the making of the application).

What will the Courts Consider when applying for permission to apply for a CAO?

When applying for permission to apply for a child arrangement order the court will consider:

· The nature of the proposed application

· The applicant’s connection with the child

· Any risk there might be of the proposed application disrupting the child’s life to such an extent that they would be harmed by it, and

· Where the child is being looked after by a local authority;

o The authority’s plans for the child’s future, and

o The wishes and feelings of the child’s parents.

What the Court will consider if permission to apply is granted.

If the Court’s grant permission to apply for a CAO, the Court’s paramount consideration is the welfare of the child(ren) and will consider the welfare checklist. There is not an automatic presumption that there should be contact between the child and their grandparents, however the Courts have recognised that grandparents play an important role in children’s lives and their influence can be extremely beneficial.

If you would like further information, please contact us on 03301 333 862 or

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