MPs call for legal rights for grandparents to see grandchildren

MPs call for legal rights for grandparents to see grandchildren

Esther Rantzen is a supporter of the proposals

Monday, May 7, 2018

MPs are calling for a change in the law that would give grandparents a right to see their grandchildren.

If the amendment was actioned, it would give grandparents rights to contact with grandchildren who they may not otherwise have been able to see due to a change in circumstances like divorce.

Conservative MP Nigel Huddleston and Labour MP Darren Jones were among those backing the proposals.

"Divorce and family breakdown can take an emotional toll on all involved, but the family dynamic that is all too often overlooked is that between grandparents and their grandchildren,” said Huddleston, during the parliamentary debate.

"When access to grandchildren is blocked, some grandparents call it a kind of living bereavement."

Dame Esther Rantzen is also a supporter of the proposals, and is a patron of the Bristol Grandparents' Support Group, which was set up by grandmother Jane Jackson after becoming estranged from her own granddaughter.

"It's such an important relationship," she said. 

The MPs are seeking changes to the Children’s Act to include a child’s right to a close relationship with members of their extended family.

A Ministry of Justice spokesman told the BBC: “The welfare of a child is the primary consideration for the family courts and steps are taken wherever possible to reduce the impact of family conflict on children when relationships end.

"We will consider any proposals for helping children maintain involvement with grandparents, together with other potential reforms to the family justice system, which are currently being looked at."

The amendment would also cover other relatives, like aunts and uncles.

The law as it stands means relatives have to apply for a court order for access to the children they wish to see, but before they can apply for the order they must seek permission from the Family Court to do so.