Do the Grandparents Have Any Rights Following a Contentious Separation?

When two people separate after what had otherwise been a close and loving relationship, the repercussions can be felt far and wide. It may take some time for these individuals to sort out their affairs, figure out how their assets are going to be divided and, most importantly, how to look after the children when the dust settles. Yet this type of unfortunate development can be multi-generational as well, as the grandparents may feel particularly aggrieved at the outcome. What can they do – if anything – to become involved in the lives of the children going forward?

If Only

In an ideal world, a separation like this would be amicable, and both parties would come to a clear agreement without any contention. The children would be front and centre in the negotiation, and all parties should be happy with the outcome. The grandparents on both sides would be just as welcome and would be able to see the children as often they did before, and in short, the damage would be very limited.

Rulings Necessary

However, if the separation becomes fractious, then it may be necessary for a court to rule on one side or the other, and they may have to lay down rules which are quite strict. These rules may not necessarily include any rights for the grandparents, or such rights may be very controlled.

Close Bond

It's not unusual for the grandparents to develop a particular and mutually close bond with their grandchildren. They may have looked after the kids when the parents went out or even cared for them when mum and dad were working on a daily basis. It's not unusual for these grandparents to be even closer to the children than the parents were.

Limited Visitation

A court may have to rule on parenting orders. They may dictate that the child spends time with the father on certain days and with the mother on others. In this case, the paternal grandparents may only visit the child at the same time as the father and vice versa. Unfortunately, it's very unusual for this type of arrangement to be modified, even though the grandparents may want more exposure to the children than that.

Worst Scenario

In very unusual circumstances it may become apparent that one or other of the parents is not able to provide enough support for the child, either materially or emotionally. In this case, a grandparent could put forward a proposal to the court to become more actively involved.

What about Your Case?

This type of situation is very rarely cut and dried, and if you are a grandparent who would like their case to be heard, get in touch with a good family law attorney for more advice.