Grand Parents: Know Your Legal Rights

In today’s modern world where families invariably consist of two working parents, grand parents play an ever more increasing role in supporting the family on an every day basis. They also play a huge role during difficult times when marriages or co-habitation relations, whether it be in a financial role or in a support role in helping their children reach a settlement with their family in a smooth manner. The rest of this article is made up of two problems faced by parents/grandparents querying their rights given the situation that they found themselves in and the advice given to them by a leading Hampshire solicitor that are specialist divorce lawyers.

Dilemma 1)

My son and his wife have recently split up. Obviously we love our grandchildren and regularly spent time with them whilst my son and daughter-in-law were together. However since their split we have found it increasingly difficult to see our grandchildren even for the shortest of times. We would like to know if, as grandparents, we have any legal rights?

Answer From A Leading Family Solictor

Unfortunately for you as a grandparent, you do not have any legal rights of contact with your grandchildren or even any automatic right to apply for contact. The route that you would have to make a preliminary application or permission of the court to consider when and in what capacity you can see your grand children. Fortunately though, courts are in favor if the children maintain contact with the wider family unless there is a specific reason why they should not maintain regular contact with them.

In most cases however you will see your grandchildren at the same time as your child does. However if there are some difficulties in doing this (e.g. geographical difficulties or breakdown in communication between you and your son) you are completely free to agree a free standing contract with your grandchildren independently of your sons court case. If direct negotiations with your son fail you may be able to use a third party (e.g. family solicitor) to mediate.

Dilemma 2)

Recently I leant a large amount of money to my daughter and son-in-law so that they could buy their house. It was always implied that this would be treated as a loan that would be repaid and once they eventually sell the house and that the verbal agreement about it being repaid would be honoured.

Due to the fact that we are family, the idea of getting legal advice and protection never crossed my mind. Recently they have began divorce proceedings and my son-in-law is claiming that the money I leant to them was not a loan but is actually a present and that I have no legal rights to which he should repay the money and that he wants to claim half of the equity on the family home. Do I have any legal rights and what can I do about reclaiming my money.

Answer From A Divorce Solicitor

Once again this is an issue that is best to be resolved between you, your daughter and son-in-law if that is at all possible. If this turns out not to be the case then you should make sure that you explicitly state the situation and your vested interests in the property in writing in the very early stages to both your daughters and son-in-laws divorce solicitor. You should state in the letter of your intentions of regaining the money of the sum of money that you loaned them (especially if you agreed that it would be paid in the event of their separation). It may also be a option for you, given the terms of the agreement, to make an application for a special interest in the property in equity and trust. Also this could allow you to register a restriction against the re-mortgage or re-sale of the property without you being first consulted of this. Also if the financial proceedings are issued with a divorce or trust in land proceedings in a co-habitation dispute, it is of the utmost severity that you apply separately to the court to intervene in these proceedings and hear you situation and then the courts can decide how to proceed with the division of the money between your daughter and son-in-law.

For more information on grandparents legal rights and more information from a divorce lawyer then check out the link in my resource box.

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