Grandparents must still see grandkids post divorces - MP - The Evesham Observer

Grandparents must still see grandkids post divorces - MP

Evesham Editorial 24th May, 2018   0

A MAJOR change to the law to ensure grandparents continue to see their grandchildren in the event of a relationship breakdown could be introduced following pressure from Evesham’s MP.

Nigel Huddleston led a parliamentary debate in Westminster Hall on grandchildren’s access rights to their grandparents earlier this month having previously raised it with the Prime Minister during Prime Minister’s Questions and with the former Justice Minister Dominic Raab.

The Mid Worcestershire MP said while divorce and family breakdown can take an emotional toll on all involved, the family dynamic which is all too often overlooked is that between grandparents and their grandchildren.

While the estrangement of grandchildren from grandparents happens for a wide variety of reasons, Mr Huddleston said the cause is rarely anything to do with the grandchildren.

Instead, they are the innocent victims in family breakdown and lose the relationship with their grandparents as a result of a disagreement, he said.

Mr Huddleston said he had been inundated with emails, letters and calls from grandparents and grandchildren across the country and shared extracts from some of the heart-breaking stories he received.

He read quotes from grandchildren who felt guilty at having been powerless to stop their parents preventing them from seeing their grandchildren and from grandparents who described being cut off from their grandchildren as a ‘living bereavement’.

Mr Huddleston said he was alarmed to hear that some grandparents had been so distraught over the loss of contact with their grandchildren that they had considered committing suicide.

Unlike in other countries such as France grandparents in England and Wales have no automatic legal right to see their grandchildren, and vice versa.

Mr Huddleston called on the Government to explore amending the Children’s Act to enshrine in law a child’s right to have a relationship with their grandparents by adding the words “and any grandparents” to the existing section on parental involvement in relation to the welfare of a child.

Speaking after the debate, Evesham’s MP said he was encouraged by Justice Minister Lucy Frazer acknowledgement the system could work better.

“It is clear this is a growing issue affecting families across the country and I was inundated with communications from grandparents and grandchildren sharing their stories before the debate,” he said.

“I have been overwhelmed by appreciative comments from families who watched it and are now hopeful that change may be on its way.

“We would all love to have a situation where we do not have to debate such issues or have family breakdowns end up in court but the reality is that it does happen.

“We as parliamentarians should do all we can to help make the process as easy and painless as possible for all involved.”


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