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What rights do Grandparents have in child custody?

Grandparents play a huge role in the upbringing of a child, especially when it comes to nurturing them and providing them with precious memories, at all stages of their life. In fact, official data from the Scottish Government, has revealed that as many as 69% of families rely on grandparents for childcare in Scotland.

However, when the family unit falls apart, it is often the children who are affected the most as relationships break down and children lose contact with their grandparents during periods of change and uncertainty.

In these scenarios grandparents often end up losing contact with their grandchildren, or find themselves fighting for access which is not always given when a child’s parents are manoeuvring the many challenges that come hand in hand with separation and divorce.

Of course, this can be incredibly distressing for both children and their grandparents.

But what rights do grandparents have in child custody? We’ve created a helpful guide outlining everything that you need to know.


Grandparent’s Rights in Scotland

There are a number of different circumstances in Scottish law where grandparents can be awarded residency of their grandchildren or given permission to contact them. However, grandparents do not have automatic rights in Scotland to see their grandchildren as all parental rights remain with the mother and father, with these rights being protected by the Children (Scotland) Act 1995.

There’s no denying that grandparents play a huge role in their grandchildren’s lives. With this in mind, although they do not have automatic rights to seek contact with their grandchildren, they can apply to the court for parental rights and responsibilities and relative orders, such as a contact or residence order.

In this scenario, the court will look closely at whether such an award is in the best interests of the children, whilst considering the reasons why parents did not allow their children to see their grandparents in the first place.


Can parents stop access to grandparents?

Unfortunately, yes! As there are no automatic rights for a grandparent to their grandchildren, parents possess the right to deny a grandparent visitation if there is no court order in place allowing for contact.


How do I enforce my grandparent rights?

Grandparents do not automatically have any legal rights to contact their grandchildren. With this in mind, one of the best ways to initiate contact with your grandchildren is to contact their parents directly and negotiate access terms in an amicable manner.


Mediation for Grandparents in Scotland

Mediation for grandparents is a fantastic way to bring the conflicting parties together, face to face, in order to attempt to try to reach a resolution.

As part of the mediation process, an impartial, trained mediator will assist parties through this process and help both parties to decide terms of access that work for all parties involved. If mediation fails, you could then attempt to use Collaborative Family Law, which is a different method of dispute resolution that is continuing to grow in popularity in Scotland.

During this process, all negotiations take place in meetings attended by all parties and their solicitors.


Apply for a court order

If both mediation or Collaborative Family Law fail, you can then make an application to the court for a ‘contact order’ if you are being stopped from seeing your grandchildren.  In order to do this, you would have to do this through a family law solicitor.

If you do choose this option as a last resort, you should keep in mind that the court will only decide to make an order if it considers that it is in the best interests of the child. And remember, the court may also take the child’s views into account depending on how old they are.


Why choose Cath Karlyn Family Law?

Cath Karlin family law is a highly specialist family law practice based in Edinburgh. I have offices which are centrally located in Edinburgh (19a Hill Street). I am a highly respected family lawyer with years of experience and expertise. I have been at the forefront of family law in Edinburgh for 25 years. Over the years I have been the lead partner in a number of groundbreaking family law cases. I have also been at the forefront of introducing new modes of dispute resolution to Scotland such as Collaborative Practice and other positive initiatives such as parenting after parting classes for parents going through separation and divorce.

I am ranked in both Chambers and the Legal 500. You can also read my reviews and what my clients think. I am a CALM mediator, Collaborative Lawyer, FLAGS arbitrator and have been accredited by the Law Society of Scotland as a Family law specialist for more years than I care to remember!

If you think I can help with your situation, feel free to contact me If you’d like to arrange a consultation or find out if I can help you. I understand that being able to budget for costs is really important so I make sure my costs don’t cost the earth. Get in touch to request a quote.

Get in touch today to find out where you stand.