Government ministers announced earlier this month that they would like more divorcing couples to come to agreements over the care and custody of their children without going through expensive and upsetting court action. The government also wants to encourage couples to agree to both sets of grandparents having access to their grandchildren once he divorce has been finalised.
A shocking recent statistic has highlighted this often overlooked aspect of divorce: one million children of divorced parents in the UK no longer have any contact with their grandparents. The impact of divorce on families is widely recognised but the effect that divorce can have on grandparents is often swept under the carpet.
When a relationship breaks down, grandparents can be left feeling powerless and isolated as they are forced to lose contact with their grandchildren. This sad state of affairs simply adds to the stress of divorce for children. Grandparents often offer a great deal of support to their grandchildren and if this support is suddenly taken away, it can lead to additional trauma at what is already a very upsetting time.
According to family solicitors in Leeds, in the majority of divorce cases it is mothers who are given custody of the children and this can mean that many fathers face the prospect of very limited contact with their children and paternal grandparents can lose contact entirely. Grandparents have no legal rights during divorce and no matter how close their relationship with their grandchildren, in many cases they can end up in a situation where contact is ceased permanently. The government’s ideas for divorce do stop short of giving grandparentsfulllegal rights to see their grandchildren, however ministers are hoping that their plans will help to ensure that grandparents and extended families maintain contact.
So what can grandparents do if faced with losing contact with their grandchildren? Some family support groups recommend that grandparents try to avoid taking any kind of legal action as this can result in incredible stress for their grandchildren. Contact is best maintained by trying to build a positive relationship with a son or daughter-in-law as soon as the prospect of divorce arises.
Although the idea of not taking sides can seem very difficult, offering support to both sides really is the best option. Grandparents are advised, if possible, to approach their son or daughter-in-law to let them know that no matter what happens, they would like to remain in contact with their grandchildren. If this option seems impossible, Leeds and Harrogate family law solicitors recommend arranging family mediation which is often very helpful and can lead to an access agreement between both sets of parents.