Grandparents have a legal right to see their grandchildren, the EU’s top court ruled on Thursday, meaning divorced parents cannot deny them access.
The finding came in a case brought by a Bulgarian woman who was struggling to maintain contact with her grandson, whose parents are divorced and who lives in Greece with his father.
The European Court of Justice (ECJ) said that EU law does not limit access rights solely to parents.
“The notion of rights of access refers not only to the rights of access of parents to their child, but also to the rights of access of other persons with whom it is important for the child to maintain a personal relationship, among others, the child’s grandparents,” the court ruled.
The grandmother, Neli Valcheva, wanted to see the boy one weekend a month and for two to three weeks a year during school holidays.
After getting little help from the Greek authorities, Valcheva turned to the Bulgarian courts, but they ruled the case was outside their jurisdiction and should be dealt with in Greece.
The ECJ said that “as a general rule, the court of the child’s habitual residence”, in this case Greece, should rule on access rights.