Posted by: Admin | April 28, 2011

When Granny gets grounded

Yesterday’s post might have seemed a little harsh to those going through the situation described, dealing as it did with the emotional fall-out of the breakdown of your child’s relationship, so today we’ll take a brief look at practical help available.

On 31st March this year the Government announced that there is to be a review of the family justice system later in the year which will set down in law the rights of children to maintain a meaningful relationship with both sets of parents, and their grandparents. A report of the proposals can be accessed on the BBC website.

Briefly, the proposals stop short of giving grandparents legal rights of access to the children, the law being “too blunt an instrument” to wield in such matters. I am inclined to agree with the report’s author, David Norgrove, when he says that the rights of adults should be secondary to the rights of the children involved. The proposed statement in law of the importance of maintaining relations with parents and grandparents is an important step towards modernising the current system in the children’s favour.

To anyone not in this situation, it seems obvious that all parties, no matter how acrimonious the split, will have the best interests of the children at heart. The problem arises when there is disagreement between the separating parents about what those “best interests” are. If one party “decides” that they should be the sole arbiter of such an important matter, it is currently possible for them to stall the legal system – the objective measure of the children’s best interests – for months on end.

There has already been a move to push couples into mediation before court action is taken. Unfortunately, this too leaves the children in limbo as agreements made through mediation are not legally enforceable, as court orders are. If the split is acrimonious and the parents are not co-operating with each other, be prepared to employ endless patience, and dig into deep pockets. Justice for children does not come cheap.

Further information can be found on the Grandparents’ Association website.

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