Grandparents rights

Grandparents play a valuable role in their grandchildren’s lives, but they do not have any automatic legal rights. However, the courts are sympathetic to grandparents, and access is only likely to be refused when contact is not in a child’s best interests. If you are a grandparent, our lawyers can help you protect your rights, whatever difficulties you face.

Can grandparents be stopped from seeing their grandchildren?

Under the Children’s Act 1989, grandparents do not have specific legal rights regarding their grandchildren. This means grandparents do not have automatic rights for visitation or access. However, if you are a grandparent who has been denied contact with your grandchildren, there are steps you can take. 

The first step is to try to reach an informal agreement with the child’s parents. If that does not work, the next step is to attend mediation. 

Mediation is when an independent, impartial mediator works with you and your family to help you to reach an agreement between yourselves. If mediation fails, you can apply to the court for a Child Arrangements Order to gain access to your grandchildren. However, you cannot apply to the court unless you have attended a ‘mediation information and assessment meeting’ (MIAM) first. 

What is a Child Arrangements Order?

A Child Arrangements Order sets out where a child lives, who they live with, and the time they will spend with parents and other relatives.

Grandparents are classed as ‘relatives’ and therefore can apply for a Child Arrangements Order to secure visitation rights (or residency rights in certain circumstances).  

If someone with parental responsibility for a child (one of the birth parents) objects to you applying for a Child Arrangements Order, then you will need to seek permission from the court to apply.

You will not need the parents’ permission to apply if:

  • The child has lived with you for 3 years in the last 5 years and within the previous 3 months. 
  • The child is in care, and the local authority has given you permission to apply for the order. 

The court uses the following ‘welfare checklist’ to decide whether to grant a Child Arrangements Order: 

  1. What are the child’s wishes and feelings? This takes into account the child’s age and level of understanding. 
  2. What are the child’s emotional, educational and physical needs? 
  3. What effect will any change have on the child's circumstances? 
  4. Is the child at risk of suffering from harm, or are they suffering harm? 
  5. How capable is the applicant of meeting the child’s needs? 

The court will also consider any other relevant factors, such as the child’s age, sex, background, and characteristics. An officer from the Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service (CAFCASS) may visit you, the child and their family and make a report. The court’s decision will be largely based on this report. 

Have a question or need some help?

Can you get guardianship of a grandchild?

If you are caring for your grandchild in the place of their parents, you can apply for a Special Guardianship Order. This gives you responsibility for the child until they are 18 years old. The child’s parents will retain some parental responsibility, so they may need to be consulted about important decisions.

The child’s parents will retain some parental responsibility so they may need to be consulted about important decisions.

Can grandparents apply for a Prohibitive Steps Order?

A Prohibitive Steps Order is a court order that prevents somebody (usually a child’s parent) from taking certain actions.

If you have parental responsibility for a child through a Child Arrangements Order or a Special Guardianship Order, then you may be able to apply to the court for a Prohibited Steps Order.

If you have parental responsibility for a child through a Child Arrangements Order or a Special Guardianship Order then you may be able to apply to the court for a Prohibited Steps Order.



Lawyers for grandparents’ rights

Grandparents play a significant role in their grandchildren’s lives. If you have been denied access to your grandchildren, it can be devastating. Our lawyers for grandparents’ rights can help you resolve matters with parents in the most amicable way possible. We can also support you through the legal process if necessary.

Whatever situation you face, you can talk to us in complete confidence. We will discuss your legal options with you so you can decide the best way to move forward.




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