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Grandparents' Rights

"Fantastic: enthusiastic and compassionate"

Chambers & Partners, 2017

"Fantastic: enthusiastic and compassionate"

Chambers & Partners, 2017

Grandparents play an important and irreplaceable role in most children’s lives. But it may surprise many to know that you don't have an automatic right to see your grandchildren when your child separates from or divorces their ex-partner.

In practice though, the family court does recognise the importance and benefits of children spending time with their grandparents – and there is a legal process you can follow to maintain a relationship with them.

The court will usually consider that it’s in your grandchild’s best interests to spend time with their extended family following a divorce or separation – unless there is good reason to prevent this. In most situations the time available for children to spend with their grandparents will be limited, but that does not mean that you can’t secure access to your grandchildren.

We specialise in helping grandparents get access to their grandchildren, and with decades of experience as one of the UK's leading family law firms, you can be sure you'll have top experts on your side. Our experienced team can help you with:

It is now compulsory in grandparents’ rights disputes for you to try and reach an agreement through mediation or other out of court negotiation, before applying to the court. Our solicitors are trained negotiators, and can help you through the process, whichever route you need to take.

We take a firm, no-nonsense approach to sorting out arrangements for grandchildren. We are often instructed late in the day by worried grandparents who have received bad advice or whose corner has not been fought. We will be honest with you about your chances of success from the start, and will guide you through the process step by step.

To find out more about how our solicitors could help you get access to your grandchildren, please call 0345 604 4911 or contact us online and we’ll get back to you as quickly as possible.


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  • Ros Bever
  • National Head of Family Law
Meet the team
Martin Loxley
Martin Loxley Sheffield

"Absolutely fantastic", "nationally known, pragmatic, and a hard negotiator."

Legal 500, 2016
Grandparents' Rights - More Information
    • Do You Accept Legal Aid Cases?
    • Legal aid is no longer available to help parents in private disputes over child arrangements, except in certain circumstances, such as certain cases of domestic violence. Unfortunately we can’t accept legal aid cases, but if we believe that your circumstances might entitle you to receive legal aid, we will refer you to a firm that can help you. You may also be able to find a suitable firm on the government’s website.


    • How Much Does It Cost?
    • You may have to go to court if you can’t come to an agreement with your partner, but you are both required to try and reach an agreement over the arrangements for your children's care and financial arrangements before taking the case to court.

      We can help you and your partner try to reach an agreement, if necessary with the use of our trained mediators, who can help you and your partner discuss your situation in a transparent and constructive way. We can also provide you with access to family therapists and counselling services for extra support.

      Out-of-court agreements are typically cheaper and quicker than going to court, which can make them less stressful for all involved - an important consideration where children are concerned.

      If none of the out-of-court processes work, we will ensure you have the best legal representation in court. Our solicitors will be open and honest about the likely outcome, and will fight to protect your best interests. We will ensure you are well prepared for any appearances, and will be at your side throughout.

      As one of the UK's leading family law firms, our solicitors have dealt with many different types of cases, so no matter how complicated your situation is, we can offer you clear advice that comes from years of experience.

      For advice or a consultation on your case, call us 0345 604 4911 or contact us online and we’ll get back to you as soon as possible.

Frequently Asked Questions

What Rights do Grandparents Have?

As a grandparent you have no automatic legal right to have contact with your grandchildren. However, the family court recognises the importance of children spending time with their grandparents, and it is rare for a grandparent to be denied access completely by the courts.

The first concern of the courts is to ensure children get access to both parents which can mean that the time left over for grandparents is limited. But that is not to say that grandparents seeking contact with their grandchildren are unsuccessful.

In order to get access to your grandchildren there is a process to follow:

  1. Try to agree access to your grandchildren with your child and their ex-partner
    Sometimes simply knowing that you can use the legal system to get access to your grandchildren is enough for the other side to see sense.
  2. Attempt to get an agreement out of court
    If you cannot reach an agreement between yourselves, it is now a compulsory requirement that you attempt to negotiate through a process such as mediation or arbitration, before making an application to the court. Out of court negotiation is typically cheaper and quicker than going through the courts – it also encourages a good working relationship for the future too.
  3. Apply to the court for permission to make a child arrangements order
    Having attempted to negotiate out of court, you will then need to apply for permission to make a child arrangements order, before you can make the application itself.
  4. Apply to the court for a child arrangements order
    If the court gives you permission, you can then apply to the court for a child arrangements order. There will be a number of court hearings before the court makes an order. This order will set out legally binding rights for your access to your grandchildren.

Once a child arrangements order has been made by the court, you cannot be denied access to your grandchildren. If you continue to experience problems, you can apply to the court again to enforce the order.

The process of applying for a child arrangements order can take several months. It depends on the complexity of the case and the number of hearings that are required. Some cases can take a year or more.

Our experienced family law solicitors specialise in representing grandparents and helping them to restore contact with their grandchildren. We will work hard to ensure that your relationship with your grandchildren is preserved, trying to keep your dispute from going to court wherever possible. If your case does have to go through the family court, our lawyers will be there to support you every step of the way.

Call us today on 0345 604 4911 or contact us online to discuss your case and how we may be able to help you.

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What Can I do If My Child Does Not Have Access to Their Children?

If your son or daughter does not have access to their children, it can be difficult – but not impossible – for you to get access to them.

It is very rare that a court decides a parent should not have access to their child; this only usually happens if they have serious concerns about a parent's ability to care for the child, or considers they could present a danger.

However, a decision about whether a parent should have access is not a decision about whether a grandparent should have access. You can go through a legal process to try and maintain contact with your grandchildren, and we have experience helping grandparents in this position.

To speak with an experienced member of our team about mediation services or securing access to grandchildren through court, call us on 0345 604 4911 or contact us online.

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Can Grandparents Get Custody?

If you think your grandchildren would be better off living with you, rather than their parents, it is possible for you to get custody.

Before you can apply for custody of your grandchild, the court must first give you permission. You then apply for a child arrangements order which will include who the child will live with.

We often help grandparents and other extended family members to get custody in situations where parents are unable to care for their children – either through ill-health or death. Our lawyers have extensive experience in this area and can help you to:

  • Get temporary or permanent custody (legal guardianship)
  • Adopt your grandchild

Getting custody of a grandchild can be a complicated and difficult process, so it pays to have an expert legal team on your side. We have decades of experience helping grandparents get access to and custody of their grandchildren. We'll be frank about your chances of success, and give a true picture of what the best options are for you.

If you have any further questions about getting custody of a grandchild, please call 0345 604 4911, or contact us online and we'll get back to you as quickly as possible.

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I live in Scotland, can Irwin Mitchell help me?

Our expert family law team works with a number of trusted partners to help our clients with family law issues in Scotland.

We’ll be your point of contact and manage the entire process for you throughout. You’ll get frequent progress updates and we’ll break down any legal jargon into plain English so you’re always in the loop.

To find out more about how we can help, give us a call on 0345 604 4911 or contact us online.

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