Q: After our son died five years ago we played a big part in our grandchildren’s lives but now their mother has met someone who has stopped them seeing us. After they texted several times saying they missed us we tried to contact their mother to talk about the situation but she just switched off her phone. How do we go about applying to the Court for a contact order?
A: Unfortunately grandparents have no automatic right to make an application to the Court for a child arrangements Order, so you would first need to apply for permission or leave from the Court to apply for an Order. Only after you have obtained permission can you apply for a Child Arrangements Order. When considering whether or not to give you permission to apply for such an Order the Court will base its decision on specific factors, including: the nature of your application, the connection between you and your grandchildren and whether your application may in any way be detrimental to the children.
Before making an application for a Child Arrangements Order you should seek legal advice from a specialist family lawyer who is experienced in grandparent issues.
A Child Arrangements Order will lay out how and when you can see your grandchildren and regulate your contact with them. If after gaining the Order their mother continues to object to you having contact with the children, you can ask the Court to intervene. This is however a costly exercise and there are no guarantees, so it would be better to ensure you have explored all other avenues before requesting Court intervention. If the Court is asked to intervene it will primarily consider the well-being of the children and whether it is in their best interests to have contact with you, before making any decision.