Although research confirms the importance of grandparents’ involvement in children’s lives, the law does not automatically give grandparents a right to participate in custody or contact proceedings. In some cases a grandparent may have to speak for one of the parents if he or she is seriously ill, for example.
There is a risk is that any hostility between the mother and the father might extend to the grandparents. Generally, the best role for grandparents to assume is one of support for their grandchildren, without identifying too strongly with the rights and wrongs of the marriage breakdown.
Divorce can be an extremely difficult time for the family. Grandparents are advised to be patient and keep in touch and wait until they can participate in the lives of their grandchildren without being seen as subversive by either party in the divorce.
Supportive grandparents can be an important source of comfort for a family. Moves to establish a “grandparents charter” suggest that the law may change to recognise this valuable role.
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