Grandparents Rights

10th March 2010
Grandparents Rights image

Grandparents Rights

It is increasingly common for Grandparents to have to make applications to Court for contact to their grandchildren.  Sadly when there is a breakdown within a family unit, for various reasons, grandparents can lose contact with their grandchildren.  The most common reason for this is that after separation or divorce, the parent with whom the child lives refuses to allow the grandparents (usually the “in-laws”) to have contact to the child.

Whilst of course it is always best to try and negotiate these matters and sometimes the Mediation Service can help resolve these disputes, there are occasions when the only way grandparents can secure contact to grandchildren is by way of a Court Order.

Grandparents must first of all make an application to Court for “leave” (permission) of the Court to make an application for contact.  In most cases leave is granted especially where there has been contact between the children and grandparents prior to the breakdown of the family.

Assuming grandparents are granted leave to make an application then the application is heard in a similar fashion to applications made by parents for contact to their children.  However, quite often grandparents’ applications have to be balanced alongside parents’ applications for contact. For instance, it is not uncommon for a father to be denied contact to children by the mother who also objects to the paternal grandparents exercising contact.  Generally, the Courts will of course give priority to father’s contact and usually, if father is granted contact then the paternal grandparents can take advantage of that and exercise contact to the children when their son exercises contact.

In some cases however grandparents need to pursue contact quite independently for a variety of reasons – sometime there is a dispute not just with the daughter/son-in-law but also the son/daughter.  Sometimes, a mother for instance, may not object to the children having contact with their father but does object to the children having contact with her ex “in-laws.”  Sometimes a parent dies and the surviving parent will not allow contact between the children and grandparents.

In any decision where a Court has to consider issues regarding the children under the Children Act 1989, the welfare of the child is the paramount consideration of the Court.  The Court will consider a variety of factors when deciding what is in the best interests of the child including the importance of the “child – grandparents” link over the years; the history of the relationship and the nature of the connection between the child and grandparent(s).  Lord Justice Ward in a frequently quoted case in 1995 stated that grandparents ought to have a special place in a child’s affection worthy of being maintained by contact and contact is assumed to be beneficial.

If you need any further advice or assistance on this subject then please do not hesitate to contact our Family Team: Anita Toal on 01775 722261 or email 

How Banks are Cashing in on Wills image

How Banks are Cashing in on Wills

Recent headlines have reported how banks are now cashing in on Wills.

During the 1990s and early 2000s, banks offered customers low cost Wills (or sometimes even free Wills) but the small print allowed the bank to charge extortionate rates to act as Executors. It is reported that banks are expecting billions of pounds of revenue from their Will writing services and administering estates and in some cases their fees have been over £12,000 to administer an estate as they look to charge a fixed fee PLUS a percentage of the deceased’s wealth.

If you or a loved one has made a Will through a bank we would urge you to check who you have appointed as Executors and check any small print which you may have signed. If you are unsure then please speak with one of our lawyers in the Wills and Probate team who can look at your existing Will with you. It may be appropriate to make a new Will which revokes any previous Will you have made which could save your family thousands of pounds when your estate needs to be administered.

In the majority of cases, when someone has passed away we can provide the family with a quote of how much the legal fees will be so that there are no nasty surprises once the administration is complete.

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