It is sadly often the case that when the parents of children separate, the children of the relationship can lose touch with their parental or maternal grandparents, sometimes for long periods. This causes distress to the grandchildren, and to the grandparents.

It is now becoming more common for grandparents to bring applications before the Court with regards to when and how they see their grandchildren. It is also more common for grandparents to seek orders confirming that the children live with them or for Special Guardianship Orders relating to their grandchildren.


Grandparents who cannot see their grandchildren due to intervention by one or other of the parents, do have a right of redress under the Children Act. An application must be made to a Family Court for permission to issue proceedings for a Child Arrangement Order. If the Court gives permission the grandparents can then file an application for a Child Arrangement Order. The application will be considered by the Court who will decide the case based on principal set out in the Children Act. A Child Arrangement Order is an Order that sets out when and with whom the child is to live, spend time or otherwise have contact with.

Parental Responsibility

Since the advent of the Data Protection Act, rights of access to information about individuals (and children in particular) are restricted.  Parents with parental responsibility can register their children with a GP, and make decisions about the child’s medical treatment. If grandchildren reside with grandparents under informal arrangements made with the consent of one or both parents, the grandparents may need to take the child to a GP, or have contact with the child’s school. Without parental responsibility, grandparents are prevented from undertaking many of the normal day to day functions which a parent can legally undertake. Acquiring parental responsibility in these circumstances may not be straightforward.

Children living with grandparents

If grandchildren live with grandparents permanently, it may be advisable for an application to be made for a Child Arrangement Order. Acquiring a Child Arrangement Order which states the child/children are to live with the grandparent(s), the making of the Order will also confer parental responsibility upon the grandparent(s).

If grandparents assist with childcare due to the parents work commitments or are applying a Child Arrangement Order as a result of the child’s parents separating the Court can also consider making a Parental Responsibility Order to part of the Order that deals with the child/children spending time with certain people and therefore could apply to grandparents seeking contact arrangements.

If you would like more information about gaining contact with your grandchildren, please email Elizabeth Hodder or telephone 01284 763333 to speak to us.


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