Frequently Asked Questions.
Q. Do I have a legal right of contact with my grandchildren?
A. Not a particular right of contact as a grandparent, but you can go to court to seek contact just like anyone else who has an interest in the child.
Q. What is my first step?
A. You’ve done it; contact Grandparents Apart UK or any other family support group for guidance. Do remember that you may need to change your attitude to help resolve the situation. Remember it is for your grandchildren.
Q. How can I help the situation?
A. Record everything. Do not get involved in any arguments or fights as this could result in a court order being issued preventing contact. Perhaps another family member could help diffuse the situation.
Q. What qualifies Grandparents Apart UK to give information?
A. We have been through what you are going through right now. We are not lawyers and do not give legal advice, but by sharing our experiences and what has worked in different circumstances and situations we can help each other.
Q. What areas do Grandparents Apart cover?
A. UK and we have been contacted from overseas
Q. What have Grandparents Apart achieved?
A. Over the years we have raised the profile of grandparents dramatically by our involvement with the Scottish Government. We helped create the Charter for Grandchildren. We also help create The Parenting Agreement to assist separating parents focus on the children.
Q. How can I get support?
A. See our contact numbers page.
Q. How do I apply for contact through the courts?
A. See our Section on Law
Q. Is there an alternative to court?
A. See our Section on Mediation.
Q. What should I expect from Social Services?
A. Be aware that Social services sometimes take control rather than help and support (we are trying to change this attitude). Go along with everything they ask of you and be amiable. If you challenge their decisions you will be labelled un-cooperative and possibly excluded.
Q. Social Services are shutting me out, what should I do?
A. Ask for an explanation of their decision. Contact the Social Work supervisor and Head of Social Work services. It may also be necessary to contact a Family Law Solicitor. Your MSP may also be able to help.
Q. How can I be a good grandparent?
A. Grandparenting is a bit like parenting, but times have moved on and grandparents must accept changes in mothering techniques and attitudes. Support and advice when offered can be helpful, but overbearing insistence can be scary and daunting for parents. The child is the responsibility of the parents and although sometimes difficult to watch, the parents must be allowed to make their own mistakes and find what works best for them. Being a grandparent means being there to help when asked, but knowing when to take a back seat; knowing the difference between supporting and interfering. Most grandparents love to see their grandchildren, but are just as happy when they go back home and this is how it should be.
Q. How can I help my situation?
A. Whatever the problem we advise keeping communication open as much as possible. If pride gets in the way, just think – my grandchild needs me.
If you feel that you need help there are groups that offer a mediation service for grandparents. It may be wise to try this before all communication is lost. A mediator is impartial and will help both sides to reach an agreement if both parties are willing to compromise in the best interests of the child.
If all else fails you can contact the Ombudsman –
Scotland Local Government Ombudsman Scotland, — 23 Walker St, Edinburgh EH3 7HX (Tel: 0131 225 5300; Fax: 0131 225 9495)
Wales Public Services Ombudsman — 1 Ffordd yr Hen Gae, Pencoed, CF35 5LJ Tel: (01656) 641 150 Fax: (01656) 641 199.
Northern Ireland Ombudsman,– Freepost, Belfast BT1 6BR (Tel: 0800 34 34 24 or 028 9023 3821; Fax: 028 9023 4912 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Greater London — 21 Queen Anne’s Gate, London SW1H 9BU (Tel: 020 7915 3210; Fax: 020 7233 0396) 40
Birmingham, Staffordshire, Shropshire, Cheshire, Derbyshire, Nottinghamshire, Lincolnshire and the north of England — Beverley House, 17 Shipton Road, York YO30 5FZ (Tel: 01904 663200; Fax: 01904 663269)
All of southern England (except London), East Anglia, the south-west and most of central England –The Oaks No 2, Westwood Way, Westwood Business Park, Coventry CV4 8JB (Tel: 024 7669 5999; Fax: 024 7669 5902)