Grandparents will get the legal right to remain a part of their grandchildren’s lives, even if the children’s parents divorce.
For the first time, separating parents will be legally obliged to ensure grandparents continue to play a part in the lives of their children, even after the couple divorce.
Parenting Agreements will be drawn up, explicitly setting out contactarrangements for grandparents, which can then be used as evidence in court if either parent goes back on the deal.
The recommendation is part of a sweeping review of the family justice regime, commissioned by the government after Nick Clegg announced that grandparents play a vital role and should not be ostracised if their own children separate.
Research shows that one in three couples divorce before their 15th anniversary, with almost half of grandparents never seeing their grandchildren again.
A Whitehall source says: ‘Mediators will encourage parents to speak to grandparents and engage with them, while grandparents will be encouraged to contribute to the arrangements and engage with their grandchildren.’
The Children Act 1989 gave contact powers to step-parents, but currently grandparents have no rights of contact, despite the fact that they are increasingly relied upon for childcare and financial support.
Mr Norgrove, who is leading the scheme, will today recommend that separating parents must draw up arrangements surrounding children’s care after a separation and reinforce the importance of a relationship with grandparents and other relatives that the childvalues.
A Whitehall spokesperson says: ‘This is putting children at the heart of the system and making sure parents going through divorce think about how they can be best cared for both now and in the future.’