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Grandparents Rights in Family Breakdown

One of the most difficult effects of family breakdown, is the effect which it can have on contact between Grand-parents and Grandchildren. In Ireland, traditionally, grandparents have always played in key role in the rearing of children, and do so more and more, because of the working commitments of both parents. They establish and maintain close emotional relationships with grandchildren, often being the full time care giver for the early years, and more.

This has a clear and long lasting benefit for children.

So what happens then when couples break up?

What rights do the Grandparents have to maintain contact with their grandchildren in a society where Separation and Divorce are becoming more common?

  • Up until 1997 Grandparents had no legal entitlement to apply for Access/Contact with their grandchildren.
  • There are now limited circumstances in which Grandparents can apply to the District Court to re-establish contact with grandchildren, but this does not extend to Guardianship or Custody.

What is the procedure?

  • Grandparents must first seek the permission of the Court to apply for Access/Contact, and must usually prove that they have sought, but have been denied contact
  • Once the initial approval is given, they can then formally apply and if they are successful,  then Orders for Access will be made.