A report by the charity Grandparents United For Change was launched at a conference at Leeds Becket University last month, marking the latest stage in a campaign about the rights of grandchildren to continue having safe, established contact with their grandparents.
The report includes a literature review of key research findings, results of a survey and a petition and documentation of the experiences of those affected by this issue. The report has a Call For Action with twelve recommendations.
The Change.org petition with the message “Grandparents are Parents Twice – Please help us protect this relationship” has so far attracted 36,907 signatures. Jasvinder Sanghera CBE, a leading rights’ campaigner in the UK, says that the petition is calling on the Prime Minister and Justice Secretary to: “…change the Children Act 1989 and law to protect grandchildren. Children should never be weaponised or deprived of a loving, safe and caring relationship with their grandparents.”
These points relate to the position in England and Wales in which grandparents first have to ask the court for permission before they can apply for a Child Arrangements Order for contact with their grandchildren.
In Scotland grandparents are slightly better off in that they can make a direct application to court for contact and could also obtain legal aid for this action if they meet income and other requirements. Scotland also has the Charter for Grandchildren which sets out some information but doesn’t provide any extra rights. The Scottish Parliament has published a SPICE briefing on this issue.
Despite lobbying during the passage of the Children (Scotland) Act in 2020, no major changes were made to improve the position of grandparents in Scotland, although there is mention in the Family Justice Modernisation Strategy of whether there should be a presumption that children benefit from contact with their grandparents.
Grandparents Apart can help grandparents in Scotland who are denied contact, and with family problems like fall outs, and parents thinking of separating. Their focus is on putting the children first and conflict second,