Many couples break up every year. And when children are involved in particular, conflicts are unfortunately not rare with regard to the relationships to be maintained with each of their parents first, but also with other members of their families, their grandparents in particular. French law makes sure, in these cases, to guarantee the interests of the children and, barring exceptions due to serious facts, helps to preserve family relations. Thus, in the event of a conflict with the separated parents, the grandparents have a right of visit or accommodation, that is to say the possibility of continuing to welcome their grandchildren for a day or a stay. longer. They must take steps to assert these rights. Explanations.
When a couple separates or divorces, the right of children to continue to maintain personal relationships with their families, whether they are grandparents, siblings, former in-laws, etc. , is recognized by French law (article 371-4 of the Civil Code). This right cannot be exercised only if the interests of the child are in question. But this right is often undermined when the rest of the family is in conflict with the separating parents.
In the case of relations with grandparents, this right allows them, for example, to maintain correspondence with their grandchildren. The continuity of these relations, in the event of separation and conflict with the parents, can also result in a right of visit for the grandparents. The latter allows grandparents to receive their grandchildren during the day. It can also be a right of accommodation, that is to say the possibility of welcoming grandchildren beyond a day and therefore of keeping them sleeping at their home.
These visitation and accommodation rights of the grandparents are exercised even if, for example, one of the separated parents who has been stripped of his own visitation rights has returned to live with his parents or even if the grandparents are in conflict with their separated children. In the latter case, their right of visit or accommodation can only be exercised if they undertake not to speak ill of their parents to their grandchildren. The interest of the child must, in fact, always be respected whatever the situation. In the event of problems, it is a judge who assesses the situations on a case-by-case basis and who can, if necessary, withdraw the right of visit or the right of accommodation to the grandparents.
Grandparents who wish to assert their visitation rights or their right of accommodation for their grandchildren, in the event of a conflict with their parents, must go through a procedure defined in article 371-4 of the Civil Code, and more specifically in article 1180 of the Code of Civil Procedure. The public prosecutor must indeed be aware of the requests made in this regard.
To officially formulate their request for visiting rights or accommodation for their grandchildren in the event of a conflict with their parents, grandparents have two solutions. Their request can be made either through family mediation, or by seizing the family court judge of the place where the grandchild or grandchildren concerned reside. In the latter case, they must go through a lawyer.
Family mediation is a solution that does not require recourse to justice. It can only be implemented with the agreement of the two parties in conflict, and in their presence. It can be initiated on their initiative or that of a judge. Family mediation takes the form of a time of exchanges, listening and negotiations between the parties, the main purpose of which is to take into account the interests of the child. As its name suggests, this procedure aims to bring parents and grandparents to an agreement in the case of visitation and accommodation rights for grandchildren, to find the best solution for the grandchildren. children, or even to reconcile the parties in disagreement. In short, it is a question of finding an amicable answer accepted by all.
The family mediator who assists and conducts these meetings is a qualified professional who has the necessary skills, particularly in law and psychology, to succeed in finding common ground between the parties in conflict. He is bound by a duty of confidentiality, impartiality and neutrality.
Family mediation takes place in 3 stages:a first interview during which the family mediator informs about the objectives of this procedure, as well as the topics that may be addressed. At the end of this interview, the grandparents applying for visitation or accommodation rights for their grandchildren can decide whether or not to continue the process; if the path of family mediation is chosen by the parties, the interviews (numbering from 6 to 10 depending on the situation) that follow each time last between 1h30 and 2 hours and can take place over a period of 3 to 6 month.
At the end of the family mediation, if an agreement is reached between the grandparents and the parents to assert their right of visit or accommodation for their grandchildren, it is possible to ask a judge to ratify this OK.
In concrete terms, to approach a family mediator, grandparents can contact their family allowance fund (Caf) or the court on which their domicile depends, which will provide them with the contact details of these professionals.
The information meeting required before family mediation is set up is free of charge. Then, this procedure is invoiced according to the income of the grandparents who thus request their right of visit or accommodation for their grandchildren. Note:this cost may be totally or partially covered by the State for grandparents who can benefit from legal aid because of their modest income.
Grandparents who do not wish to go through family mediation to obtain their right of access or accommodation for their grandchildren have the possibility of contacting the family court judge to try to win their case. To do this, they must contact their judicial or local court, the contact details of which are available by municipality on the website of the Ministry of Justice. If the grandchildren are placed, that is to say entrusted to a third party, to social assistance for children, or even in a foster family, the competent judge in these cases is the judge children.
Grandparents who apply to a judge to assert their right to visitation or accommodation for their grandchildren must be assisted by a lawyer.
The family court judge makes his decision with regard to the interests and needs of the grandchildren. He can authorize relations between grandparents and their grandchildren and set their conditions, or refuse them.
Grandparents deprived by the judge of their right of visit or accommodation for their grandchildren have one month to appeal this judgment.