Legal framework for contact or residence orders for grandchildren (Scotland)

Everything you need to know about child residence orders and the legal framework around applying for a contact or residence order for grandchildren in Scotland.

If you are a grandparent who has played an integral part in your grandchildren’s life which is now being refused, or if you are a grandparent who is now having to care for your grandchildren, you may be interested to understand the legal framework and steps required when applying for a contact or residence order.

  • Where possible, try to maintain contact with your grandchild or grandchildren. You do not want the relationship with the child(ren) to break down anyway but communication with the father and or mother of the child is vital in displaying that you are doing everything possible to stay in touch. Even if you are denied the level of contact with the child you were used to, it is important to continue some contact and will be looked on favourably by the courts, should you need to take legal action.
  • Where face-to-face contact is difficult or denied, try to maintain other ways of staying connected with your grandchild/grandchildren, for example by phoning, sending messages or letters. Where possible keep evidence to show your efforts such as text records or recorded delivery post.
  • If matters don’t settle down, you could employ the services of a family mediator. This independent person has expert knowledge and skills in resolving family conflicts and could help you in coming to an agreement with the parent or parents about spending time with your grandchildren.

If you cannot resolve the issues directly with the parents or via mediation then your only option may be to seek legal support and take your case to a court of law. 

  • Make an appointment to see a solicitor. This appointment can be by way of remote video service so you don’t need to leave the comfort of your own home. Most solicitors will not charge for their initial consultation.
  • However, before starting the court action, you will need to obtain an extract of your grandchild or grandchildren’s birth certificates from your local registration office. This is easily acquired for a small fee. 

To assist your solicitor in drafting any court papers, it is important to demonstrate evidence of your relationship with your grandchild or grandchildren. It will also act as an aide-memoire, should you be asked any questions in the future.

  • Before your meeting with your solicitor, it is therefore important to make a note of your contact with the child or children. Use your diary to analyse on which days you saw them, for how long and how often.
  • In addition to the above, make a detailed record of what you assisted them with on a regular basis. Did you pick them up or drop them off at school? Did they stay over at your house throughout the week or during school holidays? Did you provide school uniform, cook regular meals, attend parents’ evening etc.?

It can be difficult to remember all of the details of the contact you have had with your grandchildren, so to help support this process, Austin Lattery has created a FREE downloadable pdf to help get you started. See our post on Grandparents’ rights: Contact with grandchildren checklist.

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