Grandparents are the forgotten victims of ‘Divorce Month’, says charity
January is widely regarded as ‘divorce month’, as many couples emerge from Christmas with a new year resolution to kick off separate lives. Enquiries to family dispute specialists and divorce-related web searches traditionally soar this month.
But National Family Mediation says too little attention is given to the impact on grandparents, and the charity has made available a special free leaflet online and in hard copy to help guide grandparents who find themselves in this position.
“Too often grandparents take an unseen hit from divorce as they lose contact with the grandchild they love,” says Jane Robey, CEO of National Family Mediation.
“The fact is that grandparents have no automatic right to be part of their grandchild’s life.
“Divorce can shatter grandparents’ lives as much as the couple involved, because it can mean contact with the grandchildren they love is suddenly blocked.”
As the largest provider of family mediation in England and Wales, NFM has made available a free leaflet aimed specifically at grandparents in this situation. Copies can be obtained by calling 0300 4000 636 or downloaded free online at www.nfm.org.uk/grandparents.
Recent data shows that seven grandparents a day make applications for a court order to see a grandchild after the divorce or separation of the child’s parents
“It’s understandable that anxious grandparents reach for the legal route, but making an approach to court should be used only as a last resort,” Jane Robey added. “Experience tells us the huge majority those applying for court orders know little about alternative ways to resolve family disputes, including family mediation, which is often the best way for grandparents to resume the contact they so badly want with family members.
“Grandparents who feel unable to contact the adults who care for their grandchild can approach a mediation service for help. Family mediators can discuss with them the best way of inviting their relatives to participate in a process which is usually quicker, cheaper and far less stressful than going to court.”
Legal aid remains available for mediation.