Do grandparents have custody rights in the UK?

If you have a child who is going through a divorce or separation, you might be wondering whether or not you have any rights to see their children, your grandchildren. This might be especially true for those whose children are going through a particularly fraught or difficult separation or divorce and are therefore worried about whether they will be able to spend valuable time with their grandchildren in the future if one parent or both parents don’t allow it.

If your relationship with your children is not the most amicable but you still want to see your grandchildren, you may have to get the court involved in order to do so. Find out more about Child Arrangement Orders for grandparents below.

UK family law and grandparents’ rights

So, do grandparents have rights? Well, unfortunately at this moment in time grandparents do not hold any “parental responsibility”, so essentially in the UK grandparent’s custody rights do not automatically exist. However, this isn’t to say that grandparents cannot gain custody of their grandchildren, but it just depends on the specific circumstances and family dynamic. This may change in the future, as many politicians have stated that in some families, grandparents can play just as big a role in a child’s development as the parents.

In order to apply for a Child Arrangements, Order for their grandchildren, grandparents must first apply for permission to do so from the court. It seems like a long-winded process, having to get permission to make arrangements, however it is in place in order to protect children from unnecessary interference into their lives. Therefore, grandparents do have some rights when it comes to seeing their grandchildren, but only when it is deemed acceptable and necessary by the court.

If one parent or both parents have an objection to your application to be involved in the arrangements for their child or children, you may all have to attend a hearing together to get the situation sorted out. This can be quite gruelling, and if you haven’t already sought the advice of a family law solicitor this is the point to do so. 

Family mediation involving grandparents

As a grandparent you might not think that family mediation could involve you, but actually it could be very helpful. You could attend sessions with members of your family in order to come to an agreement over your visitation rights with your grandchildren. In these sessions, family mediators will listen to the opinions of you and the children’s parents. They will discuss the issues raised and help you work through them together in order to find a solution that is best for everyone.

It is unfortunate that in the UK grandparent’s custody rights are difficult to access, however there are multiple ways in which grandparents can see and spend time with their grandchildren in order to preserve that special bond. Even if you are only able to see your grandchildren once a month, it is better than nothing at all. If you are unsure of what you as a grandparent can do, it is always a good idea to seek legal advice on child law to see if you are able to get a legally binding arrangement order so that you can spend time with your grandchildren.