Grandparents – Recognition at last?


8 May 2018

By Justin Emerson

Until now grandparents have often been the unacknowledged victims of divorce, struggling to maintain contact with much loved grandchildren in the midst of circumstances beyond their control. In recent years this has caused ever increasing numbers of grandparents to apply to the courts for assistance in maintaining relationships with their grandchildren.

Usually, grandparents will apply to the court for a Child Arrangement's Order ("CAO"), although this is often more problematic than it first appears. The law states that before grandparents can even make an application, they must first ask the court for permission to apply. Not only does this seem to be somewhat unnecessary, it is also very costly. However change appears to be on the horizon.

As a result of the increased recognition of the vital role that grandparents play in the upbringing of children, and in recognition of the closeness of that relationship, MP's from all parties are currently backing an amendment to the Children Act 1989 to remove the requirement for grandparents to seek permission before making an application. They are proposing a presumption in law that grandparents should be involved in a child's upbringing, given the positive influence that such a relationship brings.

In a House of Commons debate on 2nd May 2018, Justice Minister Lucy Frazer QC stated her willingness to consider the proposed changes given the difficulties and failings of the current system, and although a change in the law is by no means certain, it appears that grandparents can maintain cautious hope that the law may soon change to reflect the importance of their position within the modern family.

This is not legal advice; it is intended to provide information of general interest about current legal issues.

If you would like advice on this issue, or any other aspect of family law, please contact our Family Team on 01245 228106 or email