Grandparents can make an application to the court for ‘contact’, but only after they have made a separate application for permission (known as ‘leave’) to make that application unless the child has lived with them for a period of three years in the previous five years, ending not more than three months before their application.
The court will take into account various factors when deciding whether to grant permission to the grandparent to make the application, such as the nature of their application, their connection with the child and any risk of disruption to the child’s life.
If permission is granted, the court will then apply the same considerations that are taken into account when a parent makes an application in relation to their child. The court’s paramount consideration will be the welfare of the child concerned, with consideration to the following factors:
- The ascertainable wishes and feelings of the child concerned
- The child’s physical, emotional and educational needs
- The likely effect on the child of any change in circumstances
- The child’s age, sex, background and any characteristics of the child which the court considers relevant
- Any harm which the child has suffered or is at risk of suffering
- How capable each of the child’s parents and any other person in relation to whom the court considers the question to be relevant (such as the grandparent that is making the application), is of meeting the child’s needs
- The range of powers available to the court.
The court will, where possible, try to ensure that a child has a relationship with his or her wider family. We often find that, particularly in cases where children have experienced the separation of their parents, continuing to have a good relationship with their grandparents can be a great source of comfort and stability.
For more information, please contact Karen Pritchard or another member of the Family Team on 01279 755777.