The Changing Role of Grandparents

Posted by Laura Bennett on

George Osborne unveiled plans to extend shared parental leave and pay to working grandparents earlier this month. The hope is that this will "increase flexibility and choice in parental leave arrangements and support working parents with the costs of childcare during the first year of a child’s life."

It is often acknowledged that the cost of professional childcare can be prohibitively expensive for parents, who may wish to return to work but find that this is not financially viable. I think this proposal is a creative and practical solution to a growing problem, but I also think that the great unsung benefit of such a proposal is that grandparents can be actively involved in their grandchildren's lives. When we were children, my granny collected me and my brothers from school and cooked my dinner every Monday and Tuesday, which meant that she knew all of our friends, our teachers and what we were learning. We had a wonderful relationship and I always attribute that to the fact that she played such an active part in our lives, as we would also see her at the weekend.

It occurs to me that in years to come these proposals may lead to an increased number of grandparents making applications to the Court (after obtaining permission) to be involved in their grandchildren's lives in the event that the parents' relationship breaks down. Any such application would be considered in the light of the 'welfare checklist' and what would be in the child's best interest. Where a grandparent has played a crucial role in caring for a child from a young age, it might become difficult to justify removing that person from a child's life or limiting the time that they spend together. In such circumstances, I would hope that parents can work together to ensure that grandparents can continue to be involved and encourage a relationship

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Laura is a Senior Solicitor in the Family team based in Oxford.

Laura Bennett
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