Do you have the right to see your grandchildren after their parents' divorce? No, none whatsoever.

However this could be about to get a whole lot better.  A recent report has set out some radical proposals for a new Parenting Agreement which will give grandparents greater access rights to their grandchildren when couples split up.

Right now things are very difficult for grandparents whose ex son in law/daughter in law is obstructing or refusing you access to your grandchildren.  You have absolutely no right to see your grandchildren and there is little you can do to change that.  After you have tried talking and negotiating the only other way ahead is to take the legal route.

dreamstime_grandparents_with_kids12636006.jpgThis is how to go about getting access at the moment
You must first make an application to the court for permission to apply for a Contact Order.  There is no certainty that permission to do this will be granted.  If it is and the matter does go to court, grandparents will still have to prove that prior to the split they had an important and meaningful relationship with their grandchildren and that it's in the interests of the children that this continues.

Proving that any relationship is important and meaningful is difficult enough but proving that it is in the best interest of the other person who might only be a few months old is even more ridiculous.  This is not something that people should have to prove to a court.  On top of all that a parent can object and hence add a whole raft of cost and a great deal of angst to the process.

Grandparents are important
Grandparents really matter and they can often become more important in their life after divorce.  Many child psychologists believe that when their parents split up, children need adults around to offer comfort, solace, and continuity to their fractured lives.  Granny and Grandpa show the traumatised children that their whole family has not disintegrated just because of their parent's divorce.  They can help to make a better and more secure life after divorce for their grandchildren.  

Almost half of grandparents face the heartbreak of being cut off completely and never see their grandchildren again after a break-up.  Those whose sons are involved in a divorce usually come off worse.

Grandparents - volunteer service providers
Grandparents provide a host of services to their children, everything from a child taxi service to babysitting.  Some social scientist with time on his or her hands has calculated that the total cost of free grandparent childcare services is an annual £50 billion.  Increasingly grandparents provide financial support at a time that can be very difficult for many couples as there are very few divorcing couples who can actually afford to divorce.

It's all going to get a lot better
The idea of the new Parenting Agreement is to reflect  the wants and needs of the children and to give the grandparents a right of access to their grandchildren.  This will make it easier for grandparents to play their vital role within the new complex and multi faceted family structures of the 21st century.

However, this new right for grandparents to apply for contact may make access agreements a lot more complicated.  A mother may well find herself having to maintain contact with both an ex-husband and his parents, neither of whom she feels are a good influence upon her children.  Unfortunately, there is always a potential downside to even the most sensible legislation.

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