There is no automatic right for a grandparent to see their grandchild if their parent stops them from seeing them. If matters cannot be resolved informally (possibly with the assistance of a lawyer), you may need to make a court application so that the court can determine whether your grandchild can spend time with you.
Unlike parents, grandparents do not automatically have the right to have their application considered by the court. As such, they need to apply for “leave” i.e. permission to make the application.
The court will take the following factors into account when determining whether or not to grant leave:
a) The type of application (whether it is an application for the grandchild to live with you, to spend time with you, or an application for the court to prevent something happening in relation to the child or to decide a specific issue about the child)
b) Your connection with the child;
c) Any risk that the application may disrupt the child’s life to such an extent that it would cause harm
If permission is granted to make the application, the court will then make a decision that it is the child’s best interests, and takes the following into account:
a) the ascertainable wishes and feelings of the child concerned (considered in the light of the child’s age and understanding);
b) the child’s physical, emotional and educational needs;
c) the likely effect on the child of any change in his circumstances;
d) the child’s age, sex, background and any characteristics of his which the court considers relevant;
e) any harm which the child has suffered or is at risk of suffering;
f) how capable each of the child’s parents, and any other person in relation to whom the court considers the question to be relevant, is of meeting the child’s needs;
g) the range of powers available to the court.
In our experience, most grandparents are prevented from spending time with their grandchild because their child (i.e the child’s parent) has also been prevented from spending time with their own child. It is common for the court application to be made by the child’s parent, with the intention that the grandparents can then spend time with the grandchild during the parent’s own time with the child. Where that is not possible, we assist grandparents in re-establishing quality time with their grandchild.