Hello again and sorry for the delay in getting back to you.
There are 3 issues here:-
- the mother restricting your son's contact according to whether or not he has paid child support
- whether his daughter's home should be with him or her mother
- the amount & type of contact he should have with his daughter
1. Child support vs contact - the child's mother has no legal right to restrict contact according to whether or not your son pays any specified amount of child support. Child support has no bearing on whether or not contact is appropriate. It is governed by separate legislation – the Child Support Act 1991, whereas contact is governed by the Children Act 1989. Someone can be a millionaire and be due to pay a fortune in child support, but be a horrible person and be banned from any contact with their child at all; or someone can be without money so not due to pay much in child support yet be a wonderful parent and have very frequent contact with their child.
The amount of child support now called child maintenance can either be agreed between the parents or they can use the formula set by the CMS. Ultimately either parent can ask the CMS to enforce payment of maintenance - but the CMS now charge for that. Details on this useful government website about child maintenance, which includes a calculator:
If you as grandparents choose to set up a savings account for your granddaughter, that's entirely up to you, and you cannot be made to give this money direct to the mother, if you don't want to.
2. Which parent your granddaughter should have her home with.
When parents separate, there's no need for any court orders if they can agree on which of them the children should live with and how much the other parent should see the children. But if they can't agree, or the agreement breaks down, then either parent can apply to court for a Child Arrangements Order, to ask the court to set out who the child should live with, and how much the other parent should see the children.
The court will decide these issues on what is best for that particular child, rather than which parent shouts loudest. The court will usually order that the child should live with which ever parent has been that child's main carer unless that parent is clearly not able to look after the child properly, or the child is at risk of harm in their care. So if your granddaughter's main carer has always been her mother, then it will be hard for your son to convince the court that his daughter should now live with him. Getting nasty texts from the mother will not be enough to persuade the court that the child should move to live with her father.
3. The amount & type of contact that your son should have with his daughter.
It is government policy that children should have contact with the parent that they do not live with – unless there is very good reason indeed why not. Not paying enough in child support is NOT a reason accepted by the court to stop or restrict contact. However, what the particular arrangement for contact should be will vary according to what is appropriate for each particular child, and workable for both parents.
In your son's case, you say that he usually has his daughter for alternate weekends, and you quite reasonably say that you accept that the mother also needs her weekends with her daughter as well. But I think your son could reasonably ask for a bit more than this eg perhaps half a day on the weekends his daughter does not stay with him, and/or a few hours per week one midweek evening eg from 4pm to 6pm, or earlier in the day while he is not working, plus perhaps in addition a telephone or skype call at a specified time and day once per week.
The court will not reduce his existing contact with his daughter merely because he makes an application to court. The court does expect the mother to encourage the contact between your son and his daughter, and not to obstruct it.
If your son wants to apply to court, he needs form C100, here:
with guidance here:
Unfortunately there is no longer any legal aid for this type of court application. The court fee is £215.
However, going to court is stressful, time-consuming and expensive, so if your son and his ex-partner can reach agreement, that is preferable. They can negotiate either between themselves (if they can remain civil) or via solicitors' correspondence, or via mediation. The family court anyway now requires the parties to have attempted mediation before it will consider an application to court. Here's where to find a family mediation service close to your son:
I think your son would also benefit from some face-to-face legal advice. Here's where to find a specialist family law solicitor near to your son:
I hope this helps and I wish you the best of luck.
Thanks and best wishes....