Losing contact with a child is heart breaking, whether you’re a parent, grandparent, or kinship carer. You’re often faced with unfamiliar procedures which can be hard to navigate, especially if your child is in care. Here, our Child Matters expert Darren Francis explains how he was able to help a couple increase their contact hours with their grandchildren who were living with a foster family.
In this case, three young children had been taken into care. Although their grandparents were unable to take custody of them, they had a very close, happy relationship. This important bond between grandparent and child is looked upon favourably by the Court, so part of the children’s Care Order stated that the grandparents should be allowed to have supervised contact. Usually in these circumstances, the contact arrangements should be regularly reviewed, so families can increase their time together.
Unfortunately, this was not the case. After three years of negotiating with the local authority, these grandparents had no luck having their case looked over. They could only see their grandchildren for 90 minutes every two months, and despite the sessions being very positive for the children, the local authority would not extend them. This is when they reached out to Darren.
What can be done to increase contact?
Darren was able to investigate the issue. While your first port of call should be the local authority, sometimes taking a matter to Court is your best option. So, after finding the council had not been accurately keeping track of the family’s contact time, Darren made an application to Court to have the arrangements properly reviewed. A Children’s Guardian was appointed to ask the children if they would like to see more of their grandparents – it was a resounding yes, they wanted to spend much more time with their Nanny and Grandad.
Darren’s assistance meant these grandparents could more than double their contact hours with their grandchildren. After a short time, they were once again allowed to take their grandchildren on day trips, to their home, out to dinner – their relationship could thrive.
Do grandparents have the legal right to access their grandchildren?
While grandparents don’t have automatic rights to contact with children, in most situations there is always something you can do. When the process becomes confusing or things are not progressing, legal advice will help you get things back on track. Children always deserve to maintain a happy, quality relationship with grandparents and their wider family when it is in their best interests. The local authority overseeing their care should always start from this premise. Visit our Grandparents page for more information.
We can provide friendly, confidential advice to anyone with a child-related matter. Contact us on 020 3146 6300 or email@example.com.
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