A report by former civil servant and businessman David Norgrove is to be published today outlining reforms that should be made to the law in order to recognise and protect the rights of grandparents.
Under current family law, the right of grandparents to maintain contact with their grandchildren after a divorce or family breakdown is not acknowledged or protected. Norgrove’s report aims to redress this issue, as it has become a serious and prevalent one.
Grandparents have been found by various studies to play an important role in a child’s life. Parents are becoming increasingly reliant on their parents for help, as the cost of child care increases and the average household income decreases. In addition, grandparents can offer advice and support to their grandchildren as they get older.
Unfortunately many grandparents are denied by the parent with custody to visit or communicate with their grandchildren. This is often the case for the parents of the child’s father. There are many reasons why contact may be denied, including punishing the father or the family’s new life in a different part of the country.
Grandparents have no rights under current law. The Children Act 1989 grants step-parents who have lived as part of the family for three years or more the right to apply for contact, but not to grandparents. If grandparents are denied access, they have to apply to court, a costly and time-consuming process.
Today’s report will recommend that grandparents’ rights be protected by legislation and that their important role in the child’s life should be recognised.
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