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Family Arrangements Following Separation or Divorce


Whenever a relationship breaks down, the arrangements for the children following a separation can often be difficult to manage with different expectations from both the parents and grandparents.

If the parents were either married to each other or the father’s name has been placed on the birth certificate, then both parents have equal parental responsibility.  This means that they both must agree to all major decisions in their children’s lives, such as whether they receive certain medical treatment and which school they attend.

It does not provide either parent with more rights than the other.  Parental responsibility is equal.

It is therefore for the parents to agree on what time their child should be spending with the other. If they are unable to agree the arrangements, then a court would make the decision. A court will start from the point that the child has a right to a relationship with both of their parents and will then make an order which is in the child’s best interests.



Grandparents, currently, do not have any legal rights over their grandchildren.

The only people with legal responsibility for a child are their parent/s or anyone with the benefit of a court order in their favour, such as a Child Arrangements Order or a Special Guardianship Order.

If the relationship has broken down between the grandparents and the parents of the child due to a family breakdown, then the grandparent’s first need to try and agree arrangements with the parent who has the main care of the child. There might be an expectation that they will see their grandchildren when the parent that is their own child is spending time with them.

If that is impossible, the grandparents would need to seek a court order to see their grandchild. The first step requires seeking the court’s permission to make the application. As the grandparents do not have any legal rights, they cannot pursue an application without permission.  The court’s only concern is the welfare of the child and will only make an order if the court believes it is the best interest of the child.


If you would like to discuss the arrangements of a child or grandchild following a separation or divorce, please contact a member of our Family Team on:

Exeter 01392 285000    Cullompton 01884 33818     Newton Abbot 01626 330127

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