Ed Balls, the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families recently announced government plans to change the law allowing grandparents the right to apply through the Courts for contact to their grandchildren. At the moment, grandparents must first obtain the permission of the Court to bring the application by showing that they have an arguable case. Whilst this is often not a difficult hurdle to overcome, it is in my view an unnecessary obstruction and one which creates the impression that the Courts are reluctant to deal with issues of contact between grandparents and grandchildren.
Of course, removing the requirement for permission does not mean that grandparents will automatically be granted contact. Any decision must still be made in line with what is in the best interests of the children concerned but it has at least raised the level of public awareness of the difficulties grandparents can face following a breakdown of the relationship between the parents. Grandparents can often be the forgotten victims of relationship breakdown and this perhaps goes some way to redress the balance.
The government has also set up a website, www.begrand.net to provide information and act of a forum for grandparents to exchange their views and ideas. The site has only been active for a few weeks and already has 1,755 members as of today’s date.
We welcome comments from parents and grandparents with their views on the changes.
For further information please contact a member of our Private Client team on 01625 442100.