My son’s relationship with his girlfriend recently broke down. They have two children who used to spend a lot of time with me but all contact has now been cut. My son is not pushing for access but I would love to see my grandchildren frequently. Is a grandparent entitled to access to their grandchildren?
Unfortunately, grandparents do not have an automatic right to access to their grandchildren. However, grandparents may apply to their local District Court for such access.
The grandparent must first get permission from the Court to bring their application for access. The Court takes a number of factors into consideration before deciding whether to grant permission to bring the application. The Court will have regard to:
- The Applicants connection with the child
- The risk, if any, that the application will disrupt the child’s life
- The wishes of the child’s guardian are taken into account
If grandparents are successful at this first stage, they may then bring a second application to the Court for the access itself. The Court will hear evidence from both sides before making a decision. Applications take place behind closed doors and are completely private.
A grandparent may make the application themselves, employ a Solicitor to make the application on their behalf or they may apply to the Legal Aid Board for representation.
Given that legal action may cause further strain to an already difficult relationship it may be best if the grandparent sought to communicate with the grandchildren’s parents with a view to negotiating access arrangements prior to embarking upon litigation. A mediation service may also be employed which may assist parents and grandparents sort out a mutually acceptable arrangement regarding access.