Keeping contact with your grandchildren

Grandparents play an important role in family structure and the well-being of a child. When a family breaks up through separation, divorce or death grandparents can be left feeling powerless and not able to see their grandchildren.

This is obviously very distressing for the grandparents, but equally it if the relationship before has been a close one it can also be upsetting for the child to suddenly have no contact with important family members.

Courts and the law are now recognising that grandparents have a right to see their grandchildren and see it as important for maintaining family life. If your child no longer has contact with your grandchildren or has intermittent contact, or has passed away and you are struggling to maintain contact with your grandchildren as the other parent is refusing it then you may be able to go to court to secure regular contact.

Obviously, it is better to avoid the courts altogether. Before you take any legal action it is vital that you approach the other parent and request access to the grandchildren. If you do not know how they will react and do not want to see them then a letter may be the best approach. This way you can explain clearly to them how much the grandchildren mean to you, that you will remain completely impartial and non-judgemental about the split and will offer the parent support.

The sooner you make contact with the parent, the better, as otherwise the parent may take your silence as indifference. During the split they may also be in great need of support and so offering help in an impartial manner during this time may be very welcome. The parent may also worry that you will allow the grandchildren contact with your child, when they have been denied access. Try to come to terms with this worry, no matter how hard it is and start by meeting altogether or only taking the children for small, local outings.

Understanding that the parent with custody will be very defensive about the children at a difficult time is vital to maintaining a good relationship with them and the grandchildren, work with them and offer support.

However, if your efforts prove fruitless it will be time to seek legal help. It will help if you can show how you have been a part of the children’s lives and how you are willing to support their needs. Contact an experienced family lawyer who can help you through the proceedings so you can still have your grandchildren in your life.

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