Senior Director at Carr & Co Solicitors Valerie Wormald answers your legal questions.
This week we have a question from a caring grandmother who is worried that a breakdown in her son’s relationship will mean that she won’t get to see her grandchildren.
My son and his partner split up over 6 months ago. They have two children together who now live with their mother. It was quite a bitter split, my son having cheated on his partner and now she is refusing to allow me to see my grandchildren. I love them dearly and always had a wonderful relationship with them in the past. What is the best way to go about getting access to them? Will a legal proceedings cause upset for my grandchildren and if so would I be better off to let them go?
Julie, Darras Hall
It is always a difficult time when parent’s separate and people sometimes forget how a break up can also affect the extended family and especially the Grandparent’s. I am pleased to hear of the wonderful relationship you had with the children and it is obvious that such a relationship was positive for them and should continue to be enjoyed by the children and yourself.
All should act in the children’s best interests as their welfare is of paramount consideration. If the children are old enough to express their wishes and feelings then it is important that they should be listened to, provided that there are no other concerns from their Mother that may need to be addressed.
Have you thought about approaching the mother directly and possibly invite her to meet with you at a mutual venue to see what her concerns are?
If you have already tried this then perhaps you might consider appointing a family solicitor on your behalf to send a letter to her confirming how you might be feeling and seeking contact with the children. You might also want to consider inviting her to attend mediation with you to try and resolve your differences.
If that does not work then perhaps you should consider a Court Application if you feel that it would be in the children’s best interests for them to have contact with you. Although you would require leave of the Court to start and application it is highly likely this would be granted in light of the connection you have with the children. The Court are likely to appoint a Family Court Advisor to speak to the children and ascertain their wishes and feelings (dependant on their age) and make recommendations. Such an advisor is trained to deal with these matters sensitively for the children so that they are not upset anymore than they might be by not seeing you. They must miss you considerably.
If you or someone you know is having difficulties accessing grandchildren call us on 0191 284 0363.