This can be to the detriment of the child’s relationship with their grandparents, especially if one parent has moved away or is in a new relationship.
Grandparents can frequently have a pivotal role to play if Social Services become involved with a child due to concerns about the care being given by the parents. Sometimes, Social Services may start court proceedings with a view to considering whether the child can remain in the care of their parents or whether alternative care arrangements are required. If the court’s view is that a child cannot remain with their parents, there is a legal requirement to consider an alternative family placement. Children are frequently placed with grandparents on either a temporary or long term basis in such proceedings.
What can I do if I am prevented from seeing my Grandchildren?
There is no automatic legal right for you to see your grandchild. The first step is to talk to the parents and reassure them that you are not taking sides but seek only to maintain your relationship with your grandchildren. If this is not successful then you may consider seeking assistance from a Family Mediator who will try and assist to reach an agreement. We can help you find a local mediator. If this is unsuccessful we can then apply to Court on your behalf for a Child Arrangement Order (formerly Contact Order or Order for Access). A grandparent has no automatic right to make such an application and we would need to make an initial application for permission to apply. It is a prerequisite, save in an emergency or where there are issues of domestic abuse or child protection, that mediation is attempted prior to taking court action.
The court recognises the importance of a child’s relationship with their grandparents and the possible benefits to the child of having relationships with both sides of the extended family. To be successful you will need to show that you have a significant connection with your grandchild.
What can I do if Social Services are involved with my (unborn) grandchild?
Social Services may want to become involved with a child due to the concerns about the care they are likely to receive from the parent(s). This may include concerns over domestic abuse, drug or alcohol use, mental health problems, poor home conditions, poor school attendance and parental learning difficulties. If these are significant and the parents have not responded to support then Social Services may start court proceedings with a view to determining where a child should live.
If Social Services are considering removing a child from its parents, there is a legal requirement to consider placing the child in an alternative family placement (grandparent, aunt/uncle, cousin, older sibling etc). As a grandparent you may wish the child to be placed with you or alternatively you may agree to the child and the parent living with you so that you are in a position to supervise the care of the child.
It is important that you ensure the social worker is aware that you wish to be assessed as a carer for the child (unborn baby) and that you (and the parents) do not delay in contacting us for advice.
If it becomes apparent that there will be no agreement, it really is important that you contact us without delay. The earlier the issue is mediated or considered by the court the more likely the chance of success. We have experience of representing grandparents in care proceedings and have successfully argued against Local Authority’s plans of placing children in foster care rather than with their grandparents.
In certain circumstances you may be eligible for legal aid.
At A&N we have the unique services of a client care manager, and for all families that need extra help our Client Care Manager has a vast network of organisations that will offer advice and support for an array of issues or concerns you as an individual or as a family wish to address. For further information please see our Client Care page.
We also have a number of staff who speak a range of languages including Slovak, German, French, Urdu, Punjabi, Czech, Turkish, Kurdish and Somali.
If you have a court hearing in the next 48 hours please call our 24 hour Emergency Helpline on 0845 450 5616.