The Government has not undertaken an assessment of the potential merits of giving grandparents a statutory right of access to their grandchildren. We understand that grandparents often play an important role in children’s lives and can provide stability in families. However, when making any decision about a child’s upbringing the court’s paramount consideration will always be the welfare of the child, based on the individual facts of the case, no adult has a statutory right to access.
Grandparents can seek leave of the court to apply for ‘spending time with’ or ‘living with’ arrangements through a child arrangements order. A grandparent may can also seek permission to apply for a Special Guardianship Order, where they would be responsible for looking after the child. This is available in both private and public law proceedings and will be considered as one of the options for a child in care proceedings. Special Guardianship Orders in private law proceedings were brought into the scope of legal aid on 1 May 2023.
We are also committed to supporting families to resolve private family law matters outside of court where appropriate to ensure that matters are resolved earlier, before conflict becomes entrenched.
In March 2021 the Government launched the Mediation Voucher Scheme which provides £500 towards the cost of mediation. As of April 2023, the scheme has helped over 17,000 families, including grandparents to access mediation and resolve their issues away from the family court.