Divorce – do grandparents have any rights?
Whilst the breakdown of a marriage is one of the most devastating human experiences that a couple and their children (if any) will ever face, there are sometimes a forgotten set of people who are nevertheless deeply affected by the breakdown. Not only will they witness their child suffering through the emotional trauma of such an event, but when a separation is less than amicable, their access to spend time with their grandchildren might be threatened. This can be heartbreaking for both the child and nan / pop. So, do grandparents have any rights? Could they approach the court in such instances?
The short answer is: they might. Any skilled attorney should raise this issue when facilitating a couple negotiating the terms of their divorce and more specifically, the conditions of parental orders. Terms can be negotiated privately between the parents (aka consent orders) and then ratified by the court as a parental order - or of course after a court hearing or trial. These terms can include (amongst many other issues) how much time the child can spend with other people such as grandparents and how they may communicate with them. As with any of the other agreed conditions, parental responsibility continues until the age of 18 when the child is recognised as an adult and has the capacity to make their own decisions.
The most important guiding principle that is followed by the courts when making a parenting order, according to the Family Law Act is the ‘best interests of the child”. It is perhaps also the most appropriate and compassionate principle that should guide parents in this situation.
If you are facing a family crisis and require legal guidance or assistance, contact our caring team for an obligation free confidential consultation. Whatever painful decisions you may be facing, we can ensure that you are equipped with expert legal advice.