Grandparents play an important role in children’s lives and research has shown that they can have a positive impact, particularly on adolescents and when families are going through difficult times. Their involvement is strongly associated with reduced adjustment difficulties in all family types, but particularly so amongst adolescences from divorced or separated families. When a parental relationship comes to an end, it often has far reaching implications in respect of the child/ren’s ongoing relationship and access to their wider family, such as grandparents. It is a sad reality that grandparents do not have an automatic right to contact with their grandchildren. However, family courts do recognise the often invaluable role that grandparents have to play in their grandchildrens lives and it is very rare that the court would refuse a grandparent access to grandchildren unless there is a safeguarding issue that would prevent that access taking place and/or unless there are practical/logistical reasons that would mean any contact would not be in the child/ren’s best interests (having regard to the welfare checklist in s.1(2) of the children act 1989). Can I make an application to the court? Only people with parental responsibility, for example parents, step-parents or guardians can make an application for a Contact Order (see s.10(4) and (5) of the children act 1989 for full details). Grandparents are not automatically entitled to apply for a child arrangements order, and they must obtain the permission of the court (“known as applying for leave”). When deciding whether the grandparents should be given permission, the court will consider (see s.10 (8)-(10) of the children act 1989 for full considerations):- The nature of the proposed application that the grandparent wishes to make Their connection with the child Whether the application might be potentially harmful to the child’s well-being in any way. If one or both parents raise objections, there is likely to be a full court hearing where all the parties can put forward… [...]
On 30 July 1949, the Legal Aid and Advice Act received royal assent. The act ensured that people on low incomes were represented in the civil and criminal justice system. Originally, its reach was almost universal with 80% of British people eligible. But as the years went by legal aid went away, with eligibility dropping steadily, down to 29% pre-recession in 2008.
We wouldn’t be able to support our clients without legal aid. Our Family Law team have helped more than 2,500 survivors of domestic abuse courtesy of legal aid. Across the country our solicitors are able to help our clients as well as advise on the review of safeguarding measures for their children. Additionally, our Criminal Defence team recently secured an acquittal for a young man accused of offences two years prior, who in the time between the accusation and charge had turned his life around and began working towards a better future. We have also been successful in numerous appeals against extradition on both technical grounds and human rights grounds. None of this would be possible without the benefit of legal aid.
There is no doubt that the justice system is under considerable pressure and also everyone working in it. Local Authorities are issuing more public law cases than ever before. Legal Aid solicitors are also managing heavier caseloads and working longer hours. Instructing barristers is increasingly difficult because they’re already in court balancing numerous cases.
Although the legal aid cuts are still an ongoing process, many young lawyers and paralegals have taken up the cause against them. Our strong team of 100 staff across the UK have a clear and unwavering commitment to Legal Aid. They do so out of passion for the cause, and for the people who need our help.
Head of Family, Ms Kirsty Richard comments
Legal Aid is vital to ensure access to justice and the LASPO restrictions for family cases has seen a very real and very tragic surge in public children law matters (care proceedings) and increased frustrations between parents trying to resolve “contact” disputes which often leads to desperate action, such as refusing to return children following agreed visits. Aside from that are the reduced rates that practitioners are paid for doing this type of work, which means now more than ever, as a legal aid lawyer you are working around the clock. Legal Aid is vital and should be preserved – hooray to 70 years of legal aid!”
Thank you & happy birthday Legal Aid! Here’s to the next 70 years.