0370 1500 100

Grandparents ‘Forced To Go To Court To See Grandchildren’

New Figures Put Spotlight On Legal Battles Following Relationship Breakdown


More than 2,500 grandparents were forced to take legal action last year in an effort to gain access and spend vital time with their grandchildren, according to new figures.

Statistics from the Ministry of Justice revealed that eight new applications for access to children are made every day in the UK, with many cases relating to families which have been affected by divorce and relationship breakdown.

The information was revealed in a parliamentary answer from Justice Minister Simon Hughes, which put a spotlight on how grandparents have no actual right to access to their grandchildren when their children are involved in a separation.

Speaking to the Daily Mirror, Esther Rantzen, patron of the Bristol Grandparents Support Group, said people she had spoken to described the lack of ability to see grandchildren as a “living bereavement”.

She added: “Under French law children have a legal right to contact their extended family, especially their grandparents, and that means cases are less likely to go to court.”

Expert Opinion
We see a number of cases involving grandparents being denied a relationship with their grandchildren as a result of family breakdown. This is not limited purely to divorce but also to the many couples who cohabit without ever marrying.

"Grandparents have an increasingly important role to play in the lives of children, often providing childcare so that the parents can go to work. We also see instances when grandparents are often required to step into the breach and provide primary care for children if the parents are unable to do so for any reason.

"It is clear from research in this area that it can cause significant emotional harm to children if they grow up without an appreciation of their full family background, while the emotional turmoil the situation can create for grandparents can be incredibly difficult to deal with.

"The courts will generally support a grandparent’s wish to have a full and meaningful relationship with their grandchildren and recognise the benefits to the child this can bring.

"Any grandparents affected by these issues should seek legal advice so that they can be given a full explanation of the options available to them to ensure they maintain a relationship with their grandchildren despite the breakdown of the parents’ relationship.

"We would always urge separating couples to always consider the wider impact of a divorce and how it affects not only their children but also other family members."
Zoe Round, Partner

© 2017 Irwin Mitchell LLP is Authorised & Regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority. Our Regulatory Information.