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Family cohesion – rights for grandparents

31 March 2011

A new report by senior civil servant David Norgrove sets out proposals for a large scale overhaul of the family law system. Prominent within the report is the proposal that grandparents are given legal rights to maintain contact with their grandchildren after a family breakdown or divorce.

The government is keen on this idea, recognising the vital role many grandparents play, but sound child protection practice will require consideration in each case of whether contact with the grandparents will truly benefit the child. In a few instances it will not. Often these matters are not straightforward.

The plans are to make the arrangements through parenting agreements drawn up with the help of a mediator, rather than through potentially confrontational hearings in court. However, these may prove difficult for grandparents to enforce given the reduction in public funding available for family matters.

How good is a right like this if it cannot be enforced?

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