Grandparents can provide valuable support and comfort to grandchildren at any time and particularly when the children’s parents are going through relationship problems. Unfortunately, divorce can result in grandparents losing contact with their grandchildren or, even worse, being prevented from seeing them.
Surprisingly, grandparents have no automatic legal rights to see their grandchildren, so what can they do to make sure they maintain their relationship?
Don’t take sides
No matter how strong your feelings and how tempting it may be to criticise the behaviour of one or other parent, you should avoid taking sides or giving advice. Most of all, you should never share their views with a grandchild. Not only can this make life difficult for the child, it can also inflame what may already be a fragile relationship between you and the rest of the family.
Offer to help
Making yourself useful is an excellent way for grandparents to forge a relationship with their grandchildren after divorce. By offering childcare and making yourself available to help, you can spend valuable time with your grandchildren.
Ask to be involved
In most cases, arrangements can be made amicably to make sure that children can continue to benefit from time with their grandparents. It is important to have an open and honest discussion within the family to make your wishes clear.
If the amicable approach doesn’t work, you might wish to consider family mediation. This works in a very similar way to mediation for divorcing couples. We are specially trained in mediation for all aspects of family relationships, including issues involving grandparents and other family members.
If mediation is not an option, we can negotiate on your behalf in an attempt to reach an agreement without going to court. All discussions will be focused on the children’s best interests.
If all else fails, you can apply through the courts but a judge will need to consider whether a case is justified first and is in the best interests of the child. If the case is allowed to go ahead, the court will consider the application in a similar way to a parent’s application to spend time with the child.
There are a number of regional support groups for grandparents who have become alienated from their families. It can help be helpful to share experiences with others and learn what different approaches have worked. Look online for your local organisation.
For advice on maintaining a relationship with your grandchildren after divorce contact Barnes Family Law on 01274 861096. Further information about grandparents and divorce can be found here: http://www.resolution.org.uk/grandparents/