Hi everyone and welcome to Bristol Grandparents Support Group blog. Although we are Bristol based we have grandparents from all over the UK and beyond as members.

It is estimated that over one million children in the UK are denied contact with their grandparents due to family breakdown which may have been caused by divorce/separation, alcohol/drug dependency,domestic violence,bereavement or family feud.
Every child has the right to have contact with their grandparents
if they wish and unless proven unsafe for them to do so. To deny contact from a parent or grandparent has to become as socially unacceptable as drink driving.
I hope to keep you up to date with what is going on in BGSG and I shall continue to campaign for the rights of children to have a loving and meaningful relationship with both parents and their extended family. So please join in as good to hear your views, not just mine!
I also will support via Skype.
There is no membership fee to be part of Bristol Grandparents Support Group.
Esther Rantzen says, " To every grandparent, links of love can never be broken in our hearts."

Please contact during office hours.

Sunday 5 September 2010

Letter reply

Dear Ms Jackson Thank you for your email dated 18 September, sent to Jim Knight, Regional Minister for the South West. As you will appreciate the Minister receives a great deal of correspondence and is unable to respond to them all personally. Your email has been forwarded to the Department of Children, Schools and Families (DCSF), and I have been asked to reply. I want to begin by explaining that the Children Act 1989 (the Act), which provides the legislative framework in this area of law, does not define a legal relationship between grandparents and grandchildren. The Act focuses on the needs of the child rather than the rights of parents, grandparents or other relatives. The Government recognises and values the important role which grandparents can play in children’s lives. Many grandparents are already involved with the care of their grandchildren and most children see their grandparents as important figures in their lives. However, the primary responsibility for bringing up children in most families lies with their parents and there may be cases where parents prefer to limit contact with grandparents. Under the Act grandparents may, provided that the permission of the court is obtained, apply to the court for an order granting contact with the child concerned. The requirement for the court’s permission is not designed to be an obstacle to grandparents or other close relatives but to act as an initial filter to sift out prejudiced applications that are unlikely to succeed. Experience suggests that grandparents (or other interested relatives) would not usually experience difficulty in obtaining permission where their application is motivated by a genuine concern for the child. I am aware though that there are concerns, which a number of MPs have written to the Department about, that grandparents who are denied contact with their grandchildren are unable to seek adequate redress through the courts. This issue was raised during debates on the Bill stages of the Children and Adoption Act 2006 and a review was announced of the requirement in private law cases that leave of the court must first be sought before applying for contact, where it relates to grandparents. We want to assess if it is the case that the leave requirement acts as a barrier to grandparents denied contact and if they are unable to seek redress through the courts. We consulted on this issue in 2007. Responses were received from the President of the Family Division, the Family Law Bar Association (FLBA), National Youth Advocacy Service (NYAS), the British Association for Adoption and Fostering (BAAF), the Grandparents Action Group and the Coalition for Equal Parenting. Responses showed that there is no widespread support for a change to the law that would remove the requirement for leave of the court to be sought by grandparents before making an application for contact. Of course, while grandparents may seek the leave of the court to apply for contact, it is usually a more fruitful route for parents and grandparents to work cooperatively to ensure that children have ongoing contact where it is in their best interests. To support this we published a revised edition of the Parenting Plan which highlights a range of issues parents and relatives may wish to consider in reaching agreement about contact arrangements. The Plans also provide a range of case studies giving examples of how others have reached agreement as well as a comprehensive list of support and advice agencies where parents and relatives can, if necessary, turn for advice. I hope this clarifies that the law is not aiming to discriminate against grandparents; rather it is ensuring a focus is maintained on the best interests of the child. Yours sincerely Pamela Kearns Public Communications Unitwww.dcsf.gov.uk

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