Does Thomas Markle have any legal right to see his grandchild?

Does Thomas Markle have any legal right to see Archie Harrison Mountbatten-Windsor?

Following the birth of Archie Harrison Mountbatten-Windsor, does Meghan’s father, so far shunned by the Royal Family, have the right to see his grandchild?

Kendra McKinney, a specialist in family law and director at Brown Turner Ross, explains that getting access through the courts would not be an easy route for him.

“Under current UK law, grandparents do not have an automatic right to contact with their grandchildren,” says McKinney. “So Thomas Markle would have to go to court to seek the leave of the court, and if successful, apply for a Child Arrangements Order to obtain contact with Archie.

“The process for grandparents differs from the process that parents undertake, as grandparents have the additional step of first requiring leave of the court to apply so there’s an extra hurdle for Thomas.” 

McKinney added that in all cases “the Court would consider whether contact might be potentially harmful to Archie’s well-being in any way.”

If leave is granted then The Duke and Duchess would then be able to put forward any objections they might have to Thomas Markle seeing their son. McKinney explains, “if one, or both parents raise objections you are likely to have to attend a full hearing in which both parties can put forward their evidence and the court decides the outcome.

“At this stage Mr Markle would have to argue that a meaningful and ongoing relationship with his grandson would be in the child’s best interests. The court will always consider all the child’s circumstances and must only make an order where they consider it better for the child than making no order at all’’

Ministry of Justice statistics show that 2,000 grandparents applied for child arrangement orders in 2016, up from just over 1,600 in 2014. MPs recently debated a proposed amendment to the Children Act to enshrine in law the child’s right to have a relationship with their grandparents. But it has been recommended that the current law on Child Arrangements Orders stay in place to prevent hopeless or vexatious applications that are not in the interests of the child.

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