Proposed Additional Rights for Grandparents
Published: 4th November 2009
The Conservative party has revealed plans to give grandparents additional rights in relation to contact with their grandchildren if they win the next election. David Willetts, who speaks for the party on family issues, has said that grandparents would be given the ability to make an application for a Contact Order or Residence Order as of right under their plans to reform the current system.
At the moment, grandparents have no automatic right or ability to make an application for a Contact Order or Residence Order under the terms of The Children Act 1989. Instead, before they can make their application, they first have to apply for leave or permission to do so. This is in contrast to parents who have the right to make an application without seeking the Court's permission.
When considering whether to grant someone, for example a grandparent, permission to make an application for a Contact Order or Residence Order, there are set criteria which the Court has to take into account. These factors include issues such as the Applicant's connection with the child and any risk to the child of the proposed application disrupting the child's life to such an extent that the child would be harmed by it.
Concerns have been expressed that contact arrangements could become too complicated when parents separate, particularly where the grandparents involved do not maintain a relationship with their son or daughter who is the child's parent. Mr Willetts was however clear that, despite such concerns, grandparents' rights to maintain contact with their grandchildren should be strengthened, recognising the important role that grandparents play in children's lives.