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Custody: Grandparents

Question for Ministry of Justice

UIN 20479, tabled on 16 December 2015

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, how many applications by grandparents for rights of access to their grandchildren there were in each year since 2010.

Answered on

5 January 2016

Under the Children Act 1989 the court may make a child arrangements order to determine with whom a child is to live or spend time. Prior to 22nd April 2014 such orders were called contact and residence orders. The Department collates figures on the numbers of applications made by grandparents for child arrangements orders and the figures for such applications since 2010 are shown below.

Number of child arrangement (contact) order applications made by grandparents in England and Wales


Applications by grandparents









2015 – 3 quarters only


Unlike parents, grandparents and other family members can only make an application for a child arrangements orders with the permission of the court. The requirement to apply for the court’s permission is not designed to be an obstacle to grandparents, or other close relatives, but to act as a filter to sift out those applications that are clearly not in the child’s best interests. Experience suggests that grandparents (or other interested relatives) would not usually experience difficulty in obtaining permission where their application is motivated by a genuine concern for the child.

The Department does not collate figures on applications for a child arrangements order where the court’s permission has been sought. This information could only be obtained by manually checking each case file at disproportionate cost. Similarly, the Department does not collate figures centrally on family members named in a child arrangements order. Details of the numbers of child arrangements orders issued specifically for grandparents to see their grandchildren could only be obtained by checking each file at disproportionate cost.