Relationship breakdown is an emotional time for the whole family and can lead to difficult family disputes. But what happens when grandparents are stopped from seeing their grandchildren? As part of Grandparents Day Family Mediation North East would like to share how family mediation can often help in these circumstances.
Grandparents form a significant group of carers; often labelled ‘kinship carers’ they, along with other relatives and friends, care f
or around 200,000 to 300,000 children in the UK. The reasons why grandparents become primary care givers is varied, but a survey conducted by Grandparents Plus revealed that the main reasons included child abuse or neglect, physical or mental disability of a parent or domestic violence within the child’s household.
The relative importance of Grandparents to the children they care for also raises the group’s significance. A report by the Department of Education concluded that, where the parents were unable to provide care, children preferred the option of staying with a relative. Moreover, it has been found that children staying with relatives are able to establish a sense of “ordinariness”, are generally happy and well looked after, in addition to being less disrupted by the circumstances that led to the parent stepping down as the primary caregiver.
So Grandparent carers are not only an important statistic, they often provide vitally needed care for children at a crucial time.
Grandparents in Dispute
A Grandparent’s legal rights to care, contact and residence of a child are not automatic. A Grandparent must first satisfy the requirements of the Children Act 1989 before they can make an application before the court. So a Grandparent seeking to make an application to the court must complete the additional C2 form prior to doing so. For more information, see the Sorting out Separation website.
And before a grandparent can make an application to the court they must attend a Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting (MIAM). For more information about this requirement please visit our FAQ page. The government created the requirement to attend a MIAM because family mediation is a very successful way of resolving any issues about arrangements for grandchildren. FMNE has helped 81% of families reach an agreement last year alone.
When Grandparents do access mediation they can agree arrangements for their grandchildren with the other party rather than being told what the arrangements are going to be by a Court. Family mediation supports people to make their own arrangements.
Also, with the mediation legal package, there are provisions for fixed legal costs for our clients with our partner firms. So Grandparents seeking to establish legally binding child arrangements can do so without fear of hidden costs. Read more about the mediation legal package.
Grandparents also have a vital role in providing support for parents who are experiencing conflict with their ex-partner and are participating in mediation. In our experience Grandparents can provide the practical means that enable a variety of proposed arrangements to become a reality. For example, this could be supervising contact, providing transport or childcare. Even when Grandparents are not directly involved in the mediation process, they can often provide help to resolve disputes.
If you are a Grandparent and think mediation might be helpful or you have any questions about mediation you can contact us on 01670 528441.
Other Organisations that help:
Grandparents Plus. This charity promotes and supports the role of Grandparents in children’s lives; they maintain a helpline that is available to the public and campaign for social change for Grandparents. They even have materials on the mediation process.
Family Rights Group. They also provide advice and support to Grandparents and kinship carers. Their website also includes advice on financial support for Kinship Carers, as well as signposting to other helpful services.