The report, by former civil servant and businessman David Norgrove, will herald the biggest shake-up in family law for decades.
Grandparents are to be given legal rights to maintain contact with their grandchildren after a family breakdown or divorce.
A report will today set out radical proposals to enshrine in law greater access rights for grandparents when couples split, Whitehall sources revealed.
The review of the family justice system will also mean couples being pushed into mediation to sort out contact arrangements rather than resorting to the courts.
It is expected to reject calls for guaranteed equal access to children for separating mothers and fathers, effectively leaving the presumption of custody with mothers.
But courts are expected to be allowed to continue to decide what is in a child’s best interests.
The plan will be welcomed by campaigners for grandparents’ rights, who have been arguing for years that their role in creating strong families should be better recognised.The source said ministers would also consider giving grandparents greater custody rights if their grandchildren are being threatened by local councils with being fostered or taken into care.Almost half face the heartbreak of being cut off completely and never see their grandchildren again after a break-up, with those whose sons are involved in a separation faring worst.The Children Act 1989 gave step-parents who have lived as part of a family for three years the right to apply for contact, but did not extend the same right to grandparents.That means grandparents have to apply to the courts even to be given permission to make a request for some sort of contact, a lengthy and expensive process.But today’s report will recommend enshrining in law greater rights to access when couples separate.‘It will mean putting into law a recognition for grandparents and the important role they can play in supporting children who are involved in bitter custody disputes,’ said one source close to the reforms.‘If they are denied access to their grandchildren who goes off with one parent, they should be able to appeal against that and take it to court.‘It is a new legal right recognising that they should be able to maintain contact with their grandchildren.’A new right for grandparents to apply for contact may raise concerns that access agreements will become over-complicated – for instance, if a mother has to agree to maintain contact with both an ex-husband and his parents.