Do grandparents have a “right” to see their grandchildren?

Grandparents play a really important role in many children’s lives. So, do grandparents have a legal right to see their grandchildren? You might think the answer to that question is yes. However, in terms of the law in Scotland, the answer is no. This comes as a surprise to many. Though proposals have been made in the past to change this, no legislation has been passed. When the Children (Scotland) Act 2020 comes into force fully, the court shall have regard to “the child's important relationships with other people". Although this does not introduce an automatic right to contact, it is a recognition in law that children can benefit from a relationship with their wider family members. 

Sometimes when parents separate or the relationship between a parent and a grandparent breaks down, contact with grandchildren can be impacted. Grandparents may try to resolve that within in the family directly but where that is not possible, it is advisable to discuss your options with a family law solicitor.

If a grandparent can demonstrate an “interest” in the child’s life, they can apply to the Court to seek a contact order. The Court will make a decision based on what is in the children’s best interests. This will include an assessment of the grandparents’ prior involvement in the child’s life and the impact of that being limited or terminated. In practice, the Sheriff Courts now routinely deal with cases where grandparents seek contact and do make orders, which in itself perhaps recognises the importance of grandparents in a child’s life.

Litigation can be unpredictable and so court actions are normally raised as a last resort in family law. Your solicitor will attempt at first to negotiate contact with the child’s parents and may recommend mediation or a form of alternative dispute resolution such as collaboration or arbitration. Court actions, however, are sometimes necessary.

The Drummond Miller Family Law team is extremely experienced in dealing with all aspects of family law including separation, divorce, and child-related matters. If you would like any further information or advice, please get in touch with our experienced solicitors in Edinburgh, Dalkeith, Musselburgh or Bathgate.