I have been thinking about this for a very long time, but feel now is the time to have a difficult discussion.
What I am going to write about today I know many will feel disappointed, but I have always been open and honest and I don’t intend to change.
Running BGSG has always been about offering help and support, and as you know our ethos has always been the rights of grandchildren.
Of course when grandparents find themselves estranged/alienated from their grandchildren they are looking for answers, they want change. As a result we discussed, many years ago, with our lawyer his views on any change that might be possible in the law. He came up with the idea of a small change in the Children Act, just a matter of adding a few words.
Children Act change?
“(2A)A court, in the circumstances mentioned in subsection (4)(a) or (7), is as respects each parent within subsection (6)(a) to presume, unless the contrary is shown, that involvement of that parent and their extended family in the life of the child concerned will further the child’s welfare.
“(2A)A court, in the circumstances mentioned in subsection (4)(a) or (7), is as respects each parent within subsection (6)(a) to presume, unless the contrary is shown, that involvement of that parent and any grandparents in the life of the child concerned will further the child’s welfare.
We shared these ideas widely and it was also discussed with Justice Ministers and included in the debate we held in 2018 in Westminster.
Grandparents want a change in the law, and I understand that, but we need to really think properly the actual prospect and how it would work.
We have a problem as the law is black and white, there are no grey areas, but relationship breakdown is all shades of grey.
Let us just assume that we are successful in a change in the Children Act or the Children and Families Act.
As most of you will know, parents already have a presumption in law to continue contact with their children should there be a separation/divorce, but we have thousands of non resident parents fighting in court to see those children, both genders are involved. Non resident parents who go back and forth to court, spending thousands of pounds and in many cases are still not seeing their children.
Even though according to the law they should.
The alienation world is a vicious and vile place to be.
As we also know, even if a Child Arrangement Order is granted, all too often those orders are breached, with no consequence for the alienator. Not worth the paper they are written on.
So would the same happen to grandparents?
I rather suspect it would.
Let’s think about a real case scenario of a grandparent who has been estranged/alienated from their grandchild for 10 years. If there was a change in the law, would they contact the parent who has been denying contact and say,
Well the law has changed so I can now see …………….
Would you do that?
I rather suspect that those who are preventing grandparents seeing their grandchildren, would not suddenly allow contact.
My view has always been, and still is that we must be working towards a cultural change, a society that wont allow alienation of children and grandchildren to happen.
Education must play its part, children learning that they have a responsibility when they have their own children, to foster good relationships with all the family members. That should their adult relationship breakdown that all family members are involved in the life of the children, it is the right of all children to have a loving and caring relationship with both their parents and extended family. unless there is a proven reason why that can’t happen.
So is a change in the law the panacea answer people perceive it to be?
BGSG will still continue to work with MP’s, Justice Ministers and other parties to look for the best way forward for the sake of millions of children.
What is of great concern for me is that false hope is being given to grandparents who are suffering so badly, they are being told that a change in the law is the only answer.
I don’t believe there is or could be a law in the land that would help to heal these broken relationships.
These are as always my own view, and we will of course continue in campaigning for the rights of grandchildren, with MP’s, and Ministers , but with you knowing it is not the only way forward.
This is a complex issue, not straightforward, not a one size fits all answer, and needs to be debated properly.