Grandparents’ Rights

When you work with our grandparents’ rights solicitors we promise:

  • We will respond to all emails sent during working hours within 24 hours.
  • We pick up our phone. You will be able to directly speak to your solicitor.
  • We listen to you and get to know you. We listen to your story.
  • We care. We treat our clients how we want to be treated and rely on word-of mouth-referrals.
  • We explain things clearly, in plain English, with no unnecessary legal jargon.
  • We provide a first-class service. The majority of our work comes from client recommendations.

When couples with children separate, grandparents can often feel like their voices are not heard, and their relationship with their grandchildren is not protected in the way they would like. This is not only upsetting for the grandparents but can also be to the detriment of the children at the heart of the family breakdown who benefit from their grandparents’ presence in their lives.

At Lewis Denley, we are here to make your life easier. Our Family Law team can help you to understand your rights as a grandparent, what you can do to protect your relationship with your grandchildren and support you in taking any action required.

Our divorce and family breakdown advice service is led by Senior Associate Solicitor Marwa Hadi-Barnes. With over 14 years’ experience helping people with their complex issues, including grandparents’ rights, Marwa has the expertise and empathetic approach to help guide you through this difficult time.

Marwa has been recognised for her standout expertise in leading client guides, the Legal 500 and Chambers & Partners. She is a member of the family law network Resolution, an organisation that shares her commitment to removing conflict from divorce and family breakdown.

Based in central Horsham, our grandparents’ rights lawyers help clients across Sussex, Surrey and beyond, including in Rudgwick, Billingshurst, Crawley, Ewhurst, Gatwick, Copthorne, Pulborough, Dorking, Reigate, Godalming, Guildford, Midhurst and Brighton

Our family law pricing is clear and transparent. Find out more about our grandparents’ rights fees.

We take pride in being approachable, helpful and here for our community.

We offer a free 30-minute consultation with Marwa Hadi-Barnes to discuss your rights as a grandparent and how we can help.

Our expertise with grandparents’ rights

Our grandparents’ rights solicitors can advise on all the issues you need to consider, including:

  • Your rights as a grandparent
  • Attempting to reach an amicable agreement on contact with grandchildren
  • Applying to a court for contact with grandchildren

Our Family Law team have comprehensive expertise, so we can also help you with any other issues related to divorce and family breakdown.

How we can help you with grandparents’ rights

Reaching an amicable agreement on contact with grandchildren

In most cases, the first option should be to attempt to reach an amicable agreement on grandparents’ contact with grandchildren.

Negotiating a solution can not only be faster, less costly and less stressful for everyone but can help with the relationship between parents and grandparents, which can often deteriorate further if court proceedings become necessary. Reducing the potential for conflict can also minimise any negative impact on the children at the heart of the matter.

A voluntary agreement on contact with grandchildren can usually be made through private negotiation between the parties and their legal representatives or through a process called ‘mediation’. Mediation involves the parent/s and grandparent/s working with a trained mediator who acts as a neutral third party to help facilitate constructive negotiations.

At Lewis Denley, our grandparents’ rights lawyers can assist with matters including:

  • Advice on your legal position
  • Representation for private negotiations
  • Preparing for mediation
  • Advice on the terms of any settlement reached

Applying to a court for help with access to grandchildren

While grandparents do not have an automatic right to apply to a court for a Contact Order to give them access to their grandchildren, they may be able to do under some circumstances.

A grandparent will first need to apply to the court for permission to apply for a child arrangements order to have contact with their grandchildren (also known as ‘leave to apply’). The court will decide whether to give leave to apply based on the grandparent’s connection with the child, what contact they are applying for, and any negative impact contact with the grandparent might have on the child.

If leave to apply is granted, the parent/s and grandparent/s involved will normally need to at least consider mediation as an option for resolving the dispute before they will be allowed to bring court proceedings.

Our grandparents’ rights solicitors can assist with:

  • Advice on your right to apply for leave to apply for a child arrangements order to have contact and the likely outcomes
  • Making an application for leave to apply
  • Applying for a child arrangements order (to spend time with their grandchildren) if leave to apply is granted
  • What to do if leave to apply or a child arrangements order is not granted

Grandparents’ rights FAQs

What are grandparents’ rights?

Grandparents do not have any automatic legal rights to contact with their grandchildren in England and Wales. However, the courts do recognise that grandparents can make a valuable contribution to their grandchildren’s lives, and it is sometimes possible to secure access to grandchildren through the courts, depending on the circumstances.

The court may grant a grandparent or grandparents leave to apply for a court order giving them the right to contact with their grandchildren (a ‘child arrangements order’) if the court feels it would be beneficial to the child to spend time with their grandparent/s.

The key principle to understand is that the court will be looking at what is in the child’s best interests.

Can parents stop grandparents from seeing children?

Sadly, it is a fairly common issue following the breakdown of a relationship that one parent may attempt to stop the grandparents from the other side of the family from seeing their grandchildren. In some complex family situations, it is not unheard of for a parent to block their own parents from seeing their grandchildren.

In the first instance, parents do have the right to control who has contact with their children, but this can potentially be challenged in court, as set out above.

However, if you are a grandparent who is being prevented from seeing your grandchild, the first course of action should be to try to mend the relationship where possible and agree on a fair plan for how you will be able to see your grandchildren.

Can grandparents become grandchildren’s legal guardians?

Where there are concerns about parents’ fitness to care for their children, it may be possible for their grandparents to become a child’s ‘special guardian’. This involves applying for a court order (a ‘Special Guardianship Order’) which grants the grandparent/s ‘parental responsibility’ for the child in question.

Once a Special Guardianship Order is in place, the child will come to live with their grandparent/s, who will have the right and responsibility to make decisions about the child’s upbringing. The parents will still have parental responsibility for their child and can be consulted on any decisions about their upbringing, but the special guardian will have the final say.

Our grandparents’ rights fees

The legal costs involved in protecting your relationship with your grandchildren can be a source of worry. We are committed to transparency with our family law pricing, so will always be upfront about the costs involved, including our fees and any third-party costs.

We will be happy to discuss all the likely costs involved once we have a clearer picture of your requirements, which is something we can cover during your free initial consultation.

Book a free 30-minute consultation with our grandparents’ rights solicitor

We want to make dealing with questions around grandparents’ rights as easy as possible. If you have any questions about how we can help you navigate this challenging time, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.

Our specialist grandparents’ rights solicitor will be happy to offer a free 30-minute consultation over the phone or via videoconference.

To arrange your free 30-minute consultation, please contact Marwa Hadi-Barnes today.

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    Marwa Hadi did a first class job.  I would recommend her to anybody.

    Thank you very much Marwa.  I just wanted to say that your efficiency and helpfulness has been of great help to me through what has obviously been a very difficult time for me.  I would be happy to recommend your services to anyone else I know who finds themselves in this situation.

    Thank you so much for all your hard work and good solid advice along the way.  I am very pleased with the outcome and feel I can finally start to think about building a new life for me and the children.

    I just wanted to thank you for all your help. I really couldn’t have hoped for a better result and I was so worried. I can only thank you for your kindness. Your response to the pension report made excellent reading and I could tell that a lot of work had gone into it.

    I am very grateful for all the support you have provided me with over this very stressful time and you have always been utterly professional, thank you

    I would like to thank you for all the patience and assistance you have given me during this time and for getting me through to the end with my health, sanity and pension untouched

    Just a quick message to say thank you for all your help in resolving my divorce efficiently. You are a credit to your profession

    I just wanted to take this opportunity to express my heartfelt thanks to you for all your efforts over the last year. It has been a very stressful time to be and I’m glad that you managed to achieve what we set out to achieve in that I’m having contact with my daughter