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What rights do grandparents have?

06 April 2021 Family Law Clair Cranston

The Covid-19 pandemic has highlighted the important role that wider family members can have in the upbringing of children. The exemption in regulations for essential childcare has provided a lifeline for some families that are reliant on grandparents to look after children and continue to work.

To many parents, grandparents are an invaluable source of support. However, sometimes children lose contact with their grandparents, often as a consequence of the parents separating and this has been particularly effected by the pandemic with lockdowns a feature of daily life. We have had numerous enquiries from grandparents who are struggling to maintain contact or communication with grandchildren in particular where their child is no longer the parent mainly living with their own children.

There is no specific right of contact in Scots law between a grandparent and grandchildren however there has always been the ability to raise court proceedings if discussions between family members didn’t lead to a resolution.

The Children (Scotland) Act 2020 is not yet fully in force. However, when it is, it will order the Court to specifically consider the effect that any order might have on the child’s relationships with other people, rather than simply the children’s parents. This is a clear indication that the child’s wider family requires to be considered in the court’s decision making. It is recognised that a child’s upbringing is not always just about the mother and father; but that aunts, uncles, and grandparents often had a significant impact on children’s lives. Fundamentally the law is still that the court’s decision must be based on the child’s best interests.

However, the Act will not go so far as to give the “right” to contact that some wanted and care and detailed advice is required in these situations.

At Macnabs our family team is able to advise you in relation to seeking contact with grandchildren. Each family’s circumstances are different and we aim to help achieve an outcome which reduces conflict. We can assist with negotiations and out of court discussions, or alternatively if these avenues have not resulted in progress, we can assist in raising court proceedings where these are necessary. 

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