Often, when parents separate, it is not just the parents who wish to ensure that their relationships with the children remain in place.
Unfortunately, extended family members including grandparents do not have automatic rights in relation to children.
Applications can be made to the Court, although there is an additional step required, in that permission from the Court must be sought first, before the application can proceed.
Certain categories of people are entitled to make an application for a Child Arrangements Order without having to seek permission from the Court first, and they are:
1. A parent, guardian or special guardian of a child;
2. Any person who has Parental Responsibility;
3. Anyone who holds a Child Arrangements Order;
4. Any party to a marriage or civil partnership where the child is a child of the family;
5. Anyone with whom the child has lived for at least three years out of the last five years including the last three months;
6. Anyone who has the consent of those with Parental Responsibility.
Other people can make an application to the Court for permission to make an application. In deciding whether to give permission the Court must consider all the circumstances and in particular:
1. The nature of the application i.e. what the Applicant is seeking;
2. The Applicant’s connection with the child. The Court will seek to be persuaded that the relationship with the child is meaningful, ongoing and of a significant benefit to the child’s life;
3. The risk of the child’s life being disrupted by the proposed application to such an extent that the child would be harmed by it; and
4. The wishes of the parent and if appropriate the Local Authority.
It is via this route that wider family members such as grandparents are able to apply for Orders in respect of children. If permission is granted a full application can proceed.