The special relationship that grandparents so often play in the lives of their grandchildren can be undermined if divorce strikes a family.
Granny and grandpa may find themselves on the sidelines if their adult children separate, and they may have less frequent contact – even no contact at all – with their grandchildren.
In law grandparents have no legal right to be part of their grandchild’s life. However, at Silk Family Law we believe that it is usually beneficial for grandparents to have contact with their grandsons and daughters post divorce. They can provide the love and emotional support that may help to lesson the blow of mum and dad splitting up.
When a child feels that his or her world has been turned upside down, grandparents can often be the rock to cling to – offering continuity, and a secure environment in which to open up about how they feel.
Unfortunately being a grandparent after divorce can be complicated and relationships can suffer. The worst-case scenario is that one set of grandparents may lose all contact with their grandchildren – particularly if it is an acrimonious divorce.
So what steps can grandparents take if their grown up children divorce?
1. Explain to both parents that you will not take sides. It is natural to want to side with your own son or daughter, but trying to be objective is in everyone’s best interests.
2. Offer your home as a neutral, safe haven for the grandchildren, allowing the parents space to discuss the details of their separation, including arrangements for the children.
3. Reassure your grandchildren that it is not their fault and that both mum and dad love them. Avoid criticising either parent, or apportioning blame – this can be hard if you feel that your own son or daughter has been hard done by.
4. If the parents do not allow you to see your grandchildren then consider mediation, which can help reduce the conflict between family members after divorce. Mediation is voluntary, however, and you cannot insist that your family takes part.
5. As a last resort you could apply to the courts for permission to apply for a Child Arrangement Order to allow you to see your grandchildren.
If you are a grandparent who is being denied access to your grandchildren then I would recommend that you take legal advice. You can me email at firstname.lastname@example.org or ‘phone me on 0191 406 5002.
You can follow me on Twitter at @waynelynn and Silk on @silkfamilylaw