Divorce can be heartbreaking for all concerned, but it is not just the immediate family that suffers. We all know that grandparents can play a vital role in the lives of their grandchildren, but sadly all contact can be lost when their own children divorce. New recommendations as part of a review of family justice is set to change this, and for the first time, separating parents will be expected to ensure grandparents continue to have a role in the lives of their children after they split up.
Currently, grandparents have no rights of contact with grandchildren when their own children separate, despite the fact that they are increasingly relied upon for help with child care and family finances. Research has suggested that, after a break-up, almost half of grandparents never see their grandchildren again. It is grandparents who have sons involved in a split who are most adversely affected..
Ministers are keen to increase grandparents’ access because they can play a vital role in a child’s life, especially those who are torn between two parents.
Recommendations will ensure that separating parents are made to draw up the agreements with the help of a mediator to “bring together arrangements for children’s care after separation”, thereby “reinforcing the importance of a relationship with grandparents and other relatives and friends who the child values”.
Grandparents will be actively encouraged to maintain contact with their grandchildren.
While the agreements will not be legally binding, it is recommended they can be used as evidence in a civil court if agreed access is denied.
Children are to be put at the heart of the system, making sure parents going through divorce think about how they can be best cared for both now and in the future.” The proposals will now go out to consultation.