Have you found yourself excluded from your grandchildren’s lives?
You’re not alone. Sadly it is becoming more common in separated families for grandchildren to lose contact with their grandparents often causing hurt, dismay and feelings of loss, abandonment and betrayal for both grandparents and grandchildren.
Sometimes losing contact with your grandchildren may be related to something you unwittingly or unknowingly did or said to upset an adult child or their partner.
Regardless of the cause of the alienation, there are some options available to you to restore the relationship with your grandchildren.
The Court believes that children have a right to spend time with parents, grandparents and any other people who are important in their lives. If you find yourself suddenly shut out from your grandchild’s life, you have the right to bring an application to the Family Court. The Court recognises that grandparents may play a significant role in the lives of their grandchildren but will always make a decision based on what is in the best interests of the child.
Before you can file an application to the Court, you will need to attempt mediation and obtain a section 60I certificate, unless your matter falls within the exceptions for the need for a certificate.
Mediation or family dispute resolution (‘FDR’) is an excellent way to restore faith and trust in a relationship and resolve issues. You can never know what a judge might decide on the day of your hearing and mediation allows you to have greater control and certainty over the arrangements.
FDR is a confidential discussion between the parties guided by the mediator or Family Dispute Resolution Practitioner (‘FDRP’). The FDRP’s role is to help you have a discussion – and it is sometimes a very stressful, emotional, awkward and uncomfortable discussion – in a safe space and in a non-judgemental, fair and balanced manner. The FDRP will give everyone an opportunity to speak and to be heard, and help you find some options that are in the best interests of the grandchildren moving forward.
The FDRP can also help you think carefully about not just where the conflict sits, but how to find the pieces of the puzzle that may lead to resolution and the start of a more peaceful relationship with the parents of your grandchildren. This will ultimately benefit not only you, but your grandchildren as well.
In the event mediation is not appropriate, or you prefer not to involve the Court, then another option is to obtain some support around conflict management. Conflict management can help you understand and address the cause of the conflict, identify the type or types of conflict, others contributing to the conflict and discuss options and strategies to help you manage the conflict moving forward.
If you find yourself shut out of your grandchildren’s lives for whatever reason, please contact Abridge Mediation and we can talk you through your options.