no order principle - what is a 16.4 guardian

The Ministry of Justice has released figures indicating that the number of applications for orders relating to children made by grandparents continues to rise.

Almost 2,000 applications for child arrangements orders were reportedly made in 2016 compared with a figure of just over 1,600 applications made in 2014.  As many as over 1,000 applications were made in the first half of 2017 which points towards the statistics for 2017 to exceed the 2016 figures.

The number of private law applications concerning children has also risen by 14.6% from 2015 to 2017, with the number of applications having been issued in 2017 reaching 52,168.  It is suggested in some quarters that potentially the number of applications made by fathers may well be driven by their own parents, and so the figures for grandparent applications could in reality be higher.

Expert commentary suggests that a large proportion of the applications are made by paternal grandparents, driven perhaps by those considering that their offspring were less likely to have such an input in the children’s lives by virtue of the children remaining living with their mothers, and in an effort to maintain a level of contact.  Furthermore, the impact of our changing society and the costs of childcare may also be a factor since the relationships between children and their grandparents is growing closer.  Longer life expectancy and improved health of the senior generations is also likely to contribute to an increasing number of grandparents seeing their grandchildren grow up.

Maeve Thompson, of the charity Grandparents Plus, has been quoted as saying:

“Grandparents are playing increasingly important roles in children’s lives, and research has shown that they’re having a positive impact – particularly on adolescents and when families are going through difficult times.”

It should be remembered that in law, grandparents have no automatic right to apply for orders in relation to their grandchildren.  Applications to the court should always be considered as a last resort, but grandparents must also seek permission from the court before an application can be made and the court will consider this before dealing with any substantive application regarding the arrangements for the child(ren).  Mediation is a prerequisite before court proceedings can be commenced, but the clear message would be to seek advice at an early stage to look at all of the options available.

We recognise that so often grandparents provide invaluable support for the family and their role can be integral when families separate.  We have a team of accredited specialists who can help, and try to find the best solution for you.

If you are experiencing problems with the arrangements for your grandchildren, or would just like to find out more information about the issues raised above, please contact us.  Ed Bidder works in our  family law team.  The team has a wealth of experience and offers advice on all children issues, including offering legal aid.  Please call 01392 210700 or email for further information.