The rights of grandparents
As far as family law is concerned, under the Children Act 1989, grandparents are grouped into the category of “any other person”. As a result, where arrangements about the care of a grandchild cannot be agreed, grandparents must apply to the court for leave, essentially asking for permission, to bring an application in relation to the child. A court will consider a number of factors, including the grandparent’s relationship with the child and the risk of disruption to the child’s life that court proceedings may have. There have been calls for this hurdle to be removed but, to date, it remains in place.
The role of a grandparent in any one child’s life can vary enormously, from living with the child full time, to contact once a year or no contact whatsoever (although this can also be the case for parents, that would be less common). For that reason, I believe it would be wrong to afford them the same status as parents and remove the need to seek permission before bringing an application. I believe that the role of a grandparent in a child’s life is often vital. The hope is, by having this requirement of applying for leave, only genuine applications by grandparents who play a positive and active role in a child’s life are heard.
This serves to increase awareness of grandparents’ rights and the positive role they can play in a child’s life. The current family justice system focuses on the best interests of the child, and rightly so. The best interests of a child can only be met, however, where all parties involved understand their own rights, the rights of others and, most importantly, the child’s right to have a relationship with their extended family.
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You know what I mean: clothes that no longer fit or are only fit for dusters (why didn’t I find them before I started cleaning?), toys that are now unloved or parts for toys that do not belong to any other parts, things that I put away meaning to sell and then forgot about them and, well, just stuff.
I got to work and put the black rubbish sacks and clear recycling sacks to good use….the bin men are going to love us. The duster clothes are in the duster drawer and the charity clothes bagged up for the charity drop in our supermarket car park (I must remember to take them with me when I next shop!!). Good toys have been boxed up for when my grandson visits and baby toys put away for any future grandchildren. I am now determined to sell everything that I have left.
In the past I was the “Ebay” queen, but it has lost it’s allure for me now. So I set to work photographing and pricing up and then add it to Gransnet Local’s Nearly New/For Sale pages…free local advertising and nothing to lose. I then copy the links to the Gransnet ads to local Facebook selling pages – I didn’t know there were so many – and the queries started coming in…
Well I have sold the large items within a few days of listing them with no fees or postage to worry about and I have space to fill in my house again…a new hobby table is on order to fill it as we have taken up wine making, but that’s another story.
What comes to mind when you hear the word ‘grandparent’? If it’s a little old lady knitting in a rocking chair, then you might want to think again. These days you’re as likely to see an octogenarian tweeting from her iPad as casting off her purl stitch.
Gransnet, the social networking site for the over 50s (don’t let the name fool you – all older people male or female, grandparent, parent or not are welcome to join us!), launched in 2011 and is now the largest social networking site for older people in the country. New members have been joining every day for the past 2 years, to talk about everything from politics to memories, books to relationships, snorkelling to, OK, yes, knitting. In 2013 came the launch of Gransnet Local, a network of sites across the country run by people aged 50-plus, offering listings of activities and events; a directory of services, from health centres to plumbers; forums for discussion of local issues; and the possibility of meeting up.
One of the joys of the internet is that no one has to know what you look like. The great thing about the web is that prejudices – about someone who has a disability, or is over 50 and living alone – don’t have to get in the way of who you are. Gransnetters value this anonymity. Even so, it quickly became apparent that many of them do want to meet offline, particularly once they’ve made friends. Members have taken it upon themselves to organise lunches and visit each other, including in hospital; some have even holidayed together.
Gransnet Local Colchester is the local site covering the whole CO postcode area and is thriving with new groups, businesses and events being added each day. Discussions have started on the local forums and a monthly newsletter is being sent out. Gransnet Local Colchester also has Facebook and Twitter pages for those wishing to take social networking for the over 50s one step further.
It is free to join and free to add to the local website listings, whether it’s to tell everyone about your fantastic hairdresser or inviting us all to your jumble sale. There is also the opportunity for local businesses to advertise to their target market or to offer promotions or competitions.