Up to one in three children lose touch with an absent parent within three years – normally the father – and do not see that parent again.
What is often forgotten is that these children also lose touch with their grandparents.
The time spent with grandparents is an integral part of a child’s upbringing which can provide a child with experiences that cannot be derived from other relationships. The loss of this relationship when a child is going through the distress of family separation is therefore devastating for that child.
If possible, the first step is to encourage your son to resolve his own contact arrangements as normally a grandparent’s contact can develop as part and parcel of those contact arrangements.
If this is not successful then you should try and talk with the children’s mother and explain to her that despite what might be going on between her and your son, your wish is only to maintain a relationship with your grandchildren and not to take sides.
However, if the relationship is too strained, then a referral to family mediation may be an option. This would require the agreement of all parties and would involve a series of meetings with an independent mediator who will help you to try and reach an agreement through structured negotiations.
Failing this, a child focused and amicable letter from a solicitor setting out why it is important for you to maintain your relationship with your grandchildren may be all that is needed to bring an agreement.
If none of the above lead to a resolution then an application to court for a Contact Order will be needed. Presently grandparents do not have an automatic right to apply for a Contact Order so you will have to apply for leave (permission) from the court to make the application. You will have to demonstrate that you have a meaningful connection with the children in order to be granted permission but this should not be a hurdle.
For more help and support contact a member of our family team.