When parents separate, the whole family experiences a huge upheaval to their normal routine. Children have to get used to alternating between two homes – perhaps even moving house entirely or changing schools. Parents must learn to cope as single parents, and work together as co-parents. The shift in dynamic can be a shock, and inevitably sacrifices have to be made – whether it’s a drop in income, a lack of spare time, or the loss of mutual friends. One casualty of divorce often overlooked, however, is the impact on grandparents, who may end up losing contact with their grandchildren completely.
Jane Robey, CEO of National Family Mediation explains: “The fact is, grandparents have no automatic right to be part of their grandchild’s life. Divorce can shatter grandparents’ lives as much as the couple involved, because it can mean contact with the grandchildren they love is suddenly blocked.”
The sudden loss of contact can be deeply upsetting for grandparents when parents separate. Unfortunately, grandparents do not have an automatic right to contact with grandchildren, and are often forgotten during negotiations or arrangements for children after divorce. In most cases, it is the grandparents on the secondary caregiver’s side who are most affected – with limited time and access to children having an even larger impact on extended family.
Recent studies have highlighted the importance of appropriately involving children in the decisions around separation, and, given the choice, children may be more likely to raise the issue of spending time with grandparents if they feel that their opinions will be heard. Most importantly, couples should seek professional advice from a solicitor as soon as possible so that they can explore their options for separation and decide on the best course of action. And, if at all possible, a collaborative approach to separation is best when children are involved, such as mediation or collaborative family law, allowing parents to come to mutually-beneficial decisions out of court.
For more information on family law, divorce, and alternatives to court, get in touch with Frances Lindsay & Co – let us take the weight off your shoulders.collaborative family law, divorce, mediation