Having Contact with your Grandchildren

grandparentsThis Sunday 2nd October 2016 marks the UK’s ‘National Grandparent’s Day

The bond between a grandparent and their grandchild is often regarded as one of the most  precious              relationships in life. 

Grandparents are free of the stresses of parenting and can simply enjoy a fun and loving relationship with their grandchild.  

Often this relationship can be of great benefit, not only to both grandparent and grandchild but also to busy parents who can have some valued time off from parenting.

But what happens to those grandparents for whom a relationship with their grandchild is impossible due to refusal by either or both parents to allow them to have contact time with their grandchildren?   Often this can happen when the parents have separated and acrimony develops amongst the wider family.

I am not being allowed to see my grandchild – what can I do?

If you are a grandparent who is being refused contact with your grandchild,  you can make an application to the Court for a Contact Order.

What is a Contact Order?

A Contact Order would allow you Court-ordered contact with your grandchild.   This application would be made under the Children Order (NI) 1995.

What is the process for applying for a Contact Order?

At first instance,  you must seek permission from the Court to bring an application for a Contact Order.  Permission is normally sought at the same time as making the actual application and in all but exceptional circumstances this permission is granted.  Once permission has been granted, the Court then considers in more general terms your application for contact.

Who would be involved in contact proceedings?

The Court then considers in more general terms the grandparent’s application for contact.  Each parent would be a party in this application.  They are entitled ask the Court to consider any objections which they may have in relation to contact.

What does the Court have to consider when making a Contact Order?

The Court would consider all the circumstances of the case and in particular the best interests of the grandchild involved.  The Court may ask a Court appointed social worker, known as a Court Children’s Officer, to speak to your grandchild in order to establish what his/her views are in relation to having conatct with you. Your grandchild’s views will be taken into account however how much weight the Court places on their views will depend on their age and understanding – the Court is will consider the wishes and feelings of a 13 year old much more than they would of a 5 year old.

How much contact can I expect to get with my grandchild?

Whilst Courts are sympathetic to grandparent’s applications for contact and are aware of the importance of such a relationship, a grandparent would not generally expect as much contact as a parent who is living apart from his/her children.

In some exceptional circumstances a grandparent may apply for their grandchild to reside with them.  This would generally be in cases where the parents are not providing adequate care for their child.  In these cases,  a grandparent could apply for a Residence Order.  If a grandparent is awarded a Residence Order,  they automatically acquire Parental Responsibility for the child for so long as the Order remains in place.  this means that they can have a right to make decisions that are in their grandchild’s best interests.

It is of course of benefit to all concerned if contact arrangments can be agreed between parents and grandparents without having to go through the Courts.  However, it is no doubt reassuring to many grandparents that they are able to exercise grandparent’s rights via the Court if they are being refused contact with their grandchild.

If you would like any further information on the issue of grandparent contact, please feel free to contact us directly here or on email at kconnolly@fhanna.co.uk or alternatively leave your comments confidentially below

LIFE BITE : Pregnancy Discrimination claims settled for 3 NI women

apple-150579_1280Three women in Northern Ireland have recently received settlements totalling £15,500 after being subjected to pregnancy or maternity discrimination in the workplace.

Sarah Shilliday, Cherie White and Kelly McAtamney accepted financial settlements before their cases reached an Industrial Tribunal.

 

All three women were helped to pursue their separate claims by The Equality Commission for Northern Ireland.

Ms Shilliday said her “childcare responsibilities” were discussed when she was interviewed for a management job with RJN Chemicals.

She later received an email from the firm whereby they commented on her suitability for the role but added: “sadly I’m afraid your personal arrangements with the new baby will make it impossible to carry out this role”.  Ms Shilliday’s case was settled for £3,000.

Kelly McAtamney also brought a case against her employer Medi Cosmetics.

Ms McAtamney, who was pregnant and at risk of miscarriage, alleged that her employer would not adjust her duties to accommodate her doctor’s advice that she needed to “stay off her feet” as much as possible.  As a result, Ms McAtamney felt that she had to resign from her job.  She received a £4,500 settlement with no admission of liability.

Cherie White settled a complaint that she had made to her employer, the Irish Football Association (IFA) for £8,000, though without receiving an admission of liability.  She alleged that a number of temporary positions, including posts which had arisen while she was on maternity leave, had been made permanent.  Ms White contended that, but for her being maternity leave, she would have been in a position to be considered for one of the permanent posts

The Equality Commission have stated that pregnancy discrimination was a “persistent problem” and the most “common cause of complaint on the grounds of gender” that they receive.

Discrimination  happens when an employer treats one employee less favourably than others.  It can happen in many instance other than the ones above – for example, if a female employee is being paid less than a male colleague for doing the same job, if an employer fails to make reasonable adjustments in the workplace due to an employee’s disability or if an employee from an ethnic minority community is refused the training opportunities offered to other colleagues.

There are specific laws against some types of discrimination (called ‘unlawful discrimination’). If your employer treats you less favourably for an unlawful reason, you may be able to take action.

IF YOU REQUIRE LEGAL ADVICE RELATING TO DISABILITY DISCRIMINATION OR IF YOU FEEL YOU HAVE BEEN DISCRIMINATED AGAINST BY YOUR EMPLOYER IN ANY OTHER WAY, PLEASE CONTACT US  MGAVIN@FHANNA.CO.UK OR LEAVE YOUR COMMENTS CONFIDENTIALLY BELOW

LIFE BITE: Brangelina No More! Angelina Jolie files for divorce from Brad Pitt

apple-150579_1280Angelina Jolie’s lawyer confirmed yesterday that she has filed for divorce from Brad Pitt.   The couple have been together since 2004 and have six children.  They were married in August 2014.

 

In a statement made by Angelina’s lawyer, we were told that she filed for “dissolution of marriage” on Monday and that the “decision was made for the health of the family”.

Sometimes, for one reason or another, a marriage just doesn’t work – regardless of whether you are rich, famous movie stars or not.  In fact, here in Northern Ireland, currently one in four marriages ends in divorce.

Ending a marriage can be one of the most difficult and stressful times in a person’s life.  Making the decision to end your marriage brings with it many worries and fears about how life will change upon divorce. The last thing that any person going through a divorce wants to worry about is having to navigate a long, complicated legal process to reach the end result.

It may be a relief to know that the legal procedure for divorce here in Northern Ireland is fairly straightforward.    We have put together below some information for you on our blog to explain how this process works.

Click here to read more

IF YOU WOULD LIKE MORE INFORMATION ON THE LEGAL PROCESS OF DIVORCE OR IF YOU HAVE A QUERY REGARDING YOUR OWN DIVORCE, PLEASE DO NOT HESITATE TO CONTACT us at cedgar@fhanna.co.uk OR kconnolly@fhanna.co.uk or LEAVE YOUR COMMENTS CONFIDENTIALLY BELOW.