A recent case heard in the Court of Appeal Re G (a child) (2018), explored the importance of the role of grandparents in the life of a child.
This case involved the appeal of the parents (a same sex couple) of a four year old child who was subject to a Child Arrangements Order. The child was born to the parents by artificial insemination from a donor who was known to the couple. From the outset, the arrangement was that the biological father would not play a role in the child’s life.
However, in 2016 the biological father issued an application for a Child Arrangements Order, to spend time with the child. It was ordered that the biological father should see the child seven times a year. The parents’ appeal related to a particular paragraph in the order that provided for the child to spend time with the paternal grandparents:
“The arrangements for the child to spend time with the Applicant may include the applicant’s parents on two occasions per year if the Applicant so wishes.”
Although the child’s parents did not criticise the biological grandparents, they felt that the obligation imposed by the court interfered with their freedom to parent their child as they thought best. They appealed on the basis that the judge had made an error because:
(1) The grandparents had no legal or psychological relationship with the child, and
(2) They were not parties to the proceedings, were not entitled to apply for an order and had not sought or been granted permission to do so.
The appeal was dismissed. The Court of Appeal upheld the Court’s view that it was in the best interests of the child to spend time with the biological grandparents since they had been involved in the child’s life both before and after birth of the child, with agreement from both parents.
When considering who a child is to spend time with, the court’s paramount consideration will always be the child’s welfare.
Interestingly, there was considerable emphasis on the importance of “parental lineage”. It was noted that the child’s interest in their heritage would only increase over time. Although the order clashed with the parents’ views, the judge noted that this was not uncommon in any set of proceedings where matters were contested. The court stated that the purpose in making this Order was to ensure that the child nurtured a meaningful understanding of the different aspects of their family tree.
“It takes a village to raise a child”
If taken up this decision could have wide ranging implications for the ability of the Court to safeguard the relationships children have with members of family beyond their parents, even when those family members are not directly involved in the proceedings.
Wider family connections have been shown as important for the welfare of children time and again. This is particularly true in cases where there is acrimony between the parents.
For further information please contact the Blake Morgan Family Team.