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Do grandparents have rights to see their grandchildren?

When families separate it is always a difficult and stressful time particularly for the children and their extended families. This can sometimes result in difficulties with maintaining contact between the children and their grandparents. An interesting case has recently been reported in Italy where the Supreme Court ruled that children are under no obligation to see their grandparents if they do not wish to do so. This followed court proceedings in 2019 where the Milan court of appeal ordered meetings between the grandparents and the children in the presence of a social worker. 

In England and Wales grandparents do not have the automatic right to spend time with their grandchildren. This means that any contact would have to be agreed by the children's parents or, in the last case scenario, by seeking permission from the Family Court to make an application for a Child Arrangements Order. The permission process will consider, amongst other things, the grandparent's connection with the children, the nature of the application and whether there is a risk that the proposed application would disrupt the children's life to such an extent to cause harm. Only when permission has been granted by the Family Court can an application for a Child Arrangements Order be made. The Court will then apply the same principles as would be applied if a parent was making the application. Depending on the children's ages, this would include an assessment of the children's wishes and feelings. 

Our family team are experienced in dealing with these issues and would be happy to assist anyone who is having difficulties with seeing their grandchildren. 

the court ruled that the interests of the children must prevail over those of the grandparents and that “an unwelcome and unwanted relationship” cannot be imposed, even more so if the children are “capable of discernment” and have reached the age of 12. Under a family law introduced in Italy in 2006, a child has the right to maintain a significant relationship with their grandparents, even if their parents separate. Grandparents also have the right to ask a court to establish whether a parent’s decision to deny them access to their grandchildren is damaging to the child’s wellbeing and therefore illegal.


family law