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Grandparents Rights to Contact to be Extended

It has today been widely reported that grandparents rights to apply for contact with their grandchildren will be increased.

There are startling statistics to show the number of children loosing all contact with grandparents following a divorce or relationship breakdown. It's thought that almost half of grandparents suffer being cut off from their grandchildren at a time when they may be needed most.

Grandparents in today’s society play an ever increasing role in children’s lives; providing child care, financial help and emotional support. Whilst accurate figures are hard to come by it is thought that grandparents provide approximately 40% of child care for working parents, saving costs of almost £4 billion a year. Children, particularly teenagers, appear to believe they can share more with their grandparents that they cannot talk with their parents about.

The current legal situation requires grandparents to make an application to the Court for permission to apply for contact with the children. However, it's now being recommended in a report into the family justice system, that grandparents should be placed on an equal footing to parents and step–parents and be allowed to make applications for contact without having to make the additional request to the Court.

It's thought that these recommendations will be accepted by the government following comments by Nick Clegg that he felt grandparents played a vital role in times of relationship breakdown.

Whilst these changes will go some way to recognising the increasingly important role that grandparents play in the lives of their grandchildren, in reality the situation has not changed significantly.

Slater and Gordon Lawyers have made many successful applications for grandparents to obtain contact with grandchildren under the current rules. Whilst it is true that technically they do have to apply for leave of the Court, in many cases, provided the grandparents have had a relationship with the children in the past, the Courts will very rarely refuse permission.

It's encouraging that the government is making changes to the family law system in order to improve relationships within the wider family following relationship breakdown, as this will no doubt lead to a more cohesive society with children having a wider support network to reply upon in times of need.

For a free initial consultation about grandparents visitation rights or any family law issue, call the Family Solicitors at Slater and Gordon Lawyers on freephone 0800 916 9055 or contact us online. We'll be happy to help you.

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