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Your Rights as a Grandparent

By: Elizabeth Mugan BA/BSc, PGDipLaw, BVC, CIArb - Updated: 28 Aug 2018 |
 
Rights Grandparents Law Contact Orders

Grandparents, whether maternal or paternal, play a vital role in any family unit. As more women become focused on careers and wish to return to work after giving birth, grandparents are playing a much bigger role in childcare. Studies show that large amounts of non-parental childcare is carried out by grandparents, which alone demonstrates how important grandparents are.

With so many marriages ending in divorce, it is understandable for grandparents to worry about whether their relationship with grandchildren will become severed, particularly where their son or daughter was the one who ended the marriage. As a result, many grandparents are facing the heartbreak of being separated from loved ones and are having to fight to keep in contact.

The Law

Step-parents who have lived as part of a family for three years were given the right to apply for contact under the Children Act 1989, but the same rights were not afforded to grandparents. Grandparents, therefore, have had to apply to the courts just to ask permission to make a request for some sort of contact. This can be a protracted and expensive process.

It was thought that grandparents would be given legal rights to maintain contact with their grandchildren, to help recognise the important role they play. Unfortunately, however, this plan does not seem to have come into fruition.

First Steps

The first step is to try and maintain a relationship with the parents, if communications have not broken down fully already. If you can talk, you may be able to persuade them that you will not take sides, you only want what is best for the children and will help to support them in any way that you can.

Hopefully this will work. However, it is most usual that relationships have significantly broken down and that parents are not willing to cooperate whilst tempers flare and emotions are still raw.

If this is the case, then you may be able to use mediation as a way forward. A mediator, who is completely independent, can try and help you reach an agreement with the parents. This can only take place if both parties agree and you are likely to have to fork out for the full costs. Additionally, mediation is a step worth taking only if you believe that you have a strong chance of success i.e. do you believe that you are likely to be able to persuade the parent(s) to a) participate fully and b) negotiate to allow some form of contact. If relations are too strained, then the only way forward may be to obtain a Contact Order through the courts.

Contact Orders

If these methods do not work, then you may wish to apply for a contact order through the courts. Parents have an automatic right to apply for contact, which differs from grandparents. Although the courts are starting to recognise how important grandparents are to the family, you must seek leave from the court to apply for a Contact Order in the first instance.

If this is successful, then your request for contact will be considered. This is the point when a CAFCASS Welfare Officer will be appointed to speak to all the parties involved, investigate all of the issues with regards to welfare and to draft a report to assist the court in their decision.

If you have a very strong report from the CAFCASS Officer, then it is usually useful in persuading the parent(s) with care to allow contact with your grandchild. If this does not work, however, then there will be a full hearing.

Hearing

At the hearing, both sides will give evidence and the court will take into account the CAFCASS Officer's report. Ultimately, the court will consider the child's best interests at all times. In most circumstances, the court will consider that grandparents, who have played a large role in their grandchild’s life, should continue to be involved. You will therefore need to persuade the court that you are more than beneficial to the children and that they will suffer if you do not continue to play a part in their life.

Can the Parents Ignore a Contact Order?

You may find that although a contact order has been awarded in your favour, you are still struggling to maintain contact with your loved ones. The court's powers have recently been increased to make it extremely difficult for the order to be ignored. They are therefore, in place to ensure that grandparents can still have a loving and fulfilling relationship with their grandchildren.

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[Add a Comment]
My son took his own life 10months ago now his girlfriend is on about changing there surname .whatcan we do its the only thing we have. She has only just started to let us facetime them after 3months of no contact. What can we do
d - 28-Aug-18 @ 6:45 PM
Don - Your Question:
My son and girlfriend have split up he has moved on but she is pregnant with his child what rights do we have not sure if his name will be put on birth certificate

Our Response:
He can apply to the courts to have his name added to the birth certificate if the mother refuses to do it automatically. Unfortunately, grandparents rights aren't very strong especially at this stage. Your son should be able to negotiate a contract agreement as the father though.
LawAndParents - 22-Aug-18 @ 11:21 AM
My son and girlfriend have split up he has moved on but she is pregnant with his child what rights do we have not sure if his name will be put on birth certificate
Don - 19-Aug-18 @ 9:35 AM
D - Your Question:
I currently have a care arrangement order in regards to my grandson who is 3months old I have been involved with the care of him since he was born. Recently the knowledge of the father as been found VIA DNA testing. He is now wanting to be assessed for full time care of my grandson along side his girlfriend. I've tried to argue the situation with local authorities as well as my solicitor due to the fact that they do not live together and their relationship has t been stable enough. My grandson was conceived during his separation to this other lady and I am being told that I can not stop this other lady having contact with my grandson can I apply for a prohibited steps order on the grounds that they don't live together and that my grandsons father had a sexual relationship with a vulnerable adult with a low IQ.

Our Response:
We can't give specific legal advice in terms of the PSO and the circumstances, but it would usually be seen as the preferred option for a father with parental responsibility to care for a child if the mother was not capable of doing so.
LawAndParents - 8-Aug-18 @ 3:22 PM
I currently have a care arrangement order in regards to my grandson who is 3months old I have been involved with the care of him since he was born. Recently the knowledge of the father as been found VIA DNA testing. He is now wanting to be assessed for full time care of my grandson along side his girlfriend. I've tried to argue the situation with local authorities as well as my solicitor due to the fact that they do not live together and their relationship has t been stable enough. My grandson was conceived during his separation to this other lady and I am being told that I can not stop this other lady having contact with my grandson can i apply for a prohibited steps order on the grounds that they don't live together and that my grandsons father had a sexual relationship with a vulnerable adult with a low IQ.
D - 7-Aug-18 @ 7:09 PM
Granny - Your Question:
My step-grandson has recently been diagnosed with ADHD, which my husband and I recognised in him some years ago, he’s almost 13. However his mum was in denial. She is now saying that he is on a waiting list for medication. Another worrying result of his behaviour is that his school is excluding him from some lessons as well as sending him home at lunchtime on 2 days a week. As grandparents we would like to help but are not sure if we could intervene at his school to find out why they are dealing with him in this way as well as attempting to contact his GP in respect of not receiving medication. My husband and myself believe that the parents, who are separated, are not discussing this enough with the relevant people and we’re very much aware of how much they shout and scream at our grandson and his siblings instead of talking to them in a more civilised way. Have we any rights in this matter which would entitle us to intervene on his behalf?

Our Response:
Not really unfortunately. Talking to the parents is really the best option. Perhaps you could offer to help./support the parents and that way they may give consent for you to contact the school?
LawAndParents - 1-Aug-18 @ 2:57 PM
My step-grandson has recently been diagnosed with ADHD, which my husband and I recognised in him some years ago, he’s almost 13. However his mum was in denial. She is now saying that he is on a waiting list for medication. Another worrying result of his behaviour is that his school is excluding him from some lessons as well as sending him home at lunchtime on 2 days a week. As grandparents we would like to help but are not sure if we could intervene at his school to find out why they are dealing with him in this way as well as attempting to contact his GP in respect of not receiving medication. My husband and myself believe that the parents, who are separated, are not discussing this enough with the relevant people and we’re very much aware of how much they shout and scream at our grandson and his siblings instead of talking to them in a more civilised way. Have we any rights in this matter which would entitle us to intervene on his behalf?
Granny - 31-Jul-18 @ 11:22 AM
Hi my relationship between me and my youngest daughter has broken down as she lives with my x husband she gave birth to a baby girl in April and won't let me see her. I also have an older daughter who has 3 boys I've always had contact with them. It's the things she has told me about with the child's father I don't like. I told her I was going to see a solicitor about trying to get access to see my granddaughter my eldest daughter has now stopped speaking to me and I'm not allowed to see my grandsons anymore. Have I got any rights.
Ann - 25-Jul-18 @ 4:09 PM
My brother passed away and both my mother and I would like to make contact with his daughter. The mother of the child doesn’t seem like she wants to make efforts. What can we do?
Melissa20 - 25-Jun-18 @ 12:43 PM
Me and my partner broke up in December 2017 just before Christmas, both dad and grandparents have had nothing to do with both my children my oldest is 2 years and youngest 11 monthafter 6 months of no contact they now want contact, the dad still doesn't seem bothered but suddenly the nan wants contact have I got a right to stop her and she can't just pick and choose when she wants them.
Katierheath - 30-May-18 @ 1:33 AM
Reloc1 - Your Question:
Hi we are looking to relocate as a couple and have children together- would our parents (our children’s grandparents) be able to prevent us from relocating? We would never prevent them from visiting us or our children and we would also visit when financially possible. Can you advise? Thanks.

Our Response:
No grandparents can't prevent their children moving away with grandchildren.
LawAndParents - 14-May-18 @ 3:39 PM
Hi we are looking to relocate as a couple and have children together- would our parents (our children’s grandparents) be able to prevent us from relocating? We would never prevent them from visiting us or our children and we would also visit when financially possible. Can you advise? Thanks.
Reloc1 - 12-May-18 @ 10:25 AM
Kid- Your Question:
My daughter left her home 9 months ago due to an emotionally abusive husband. She and her two young children 8, and 5 have lived here in one bedroom sharing a double bed. She has tried to get a residency order to get back in their privately owned house - but her ex husband has said a redicency order means he couldn’t go near the house if the order was granted, (he would need to go to the house to pick the children up) is he lying - thank you

Our Response:
No residency orders no longer exists - they have been replaced the Child Arrangements Order, which is a court order detailing the living and contact arrangements for the child or children. The courts can order shared residence so that both parents have equal care, or they can order full residence to one parent etc. This will not prevent pick ups/drop offs when the other parent has contact time. If the mother and father cannot be in close proximity due to abuse issues, the courts may order a third party presence at hand over time, or that handovers take place on a neutral ground.
LawAndParents - 8-May-18 @ 11:25 AM
My daughter left her home 9 months ago due to an emotionally abusive husband. She and her two young children 8, and 5 have lived here in one bedroom sharing a double bed. She has tried to get a residency order to get back in their privately owned house - but her ex husband has said a redicency order means he couldn’t go near the house if the order was granted, (he would need to go to the house to pick the children up) is he lying - thank you
Kid - 5-May-18 @ 5:48 PM
Concerned- Your Question:
Our niece is a single parent to a 20 month old boy, she drinks, takes drugs, spends most nights out with her friends while other family members look after the child. For the sake of the child’s well being and upbringing If this carries on my wife and I want to step in and apply for custody. Would this be an impossible task or is it something that would be possible to do under family custody laws?

Our Response:
Unless it's a voluntary agreement between you and your niece, it's unlikely this would be considered unless the child was removed from your niece by social services in which case you might be able to apply to foster/adopt etc.
LawAndParents - 25-Apr-18 @ 3:08 PM
T - Your Question:
Hi my Daughter has just had a baby who is 2month old. My Daughter is not with the Dad but he sees her regularly and so does the other Nan. I was seeing her 2 days a week for a couple of hours. This as suddenly stopped for no reason. The other Nan and myself do not get on and it looks like she has convinced my Daughter that she shouldn't let her come to see me. I have asked to see her but just get that the other Nan has got her. I'm finding this very upsetting cause I have done nothink wrong for my Daughter to be like this. Do I have rights to see my Granddaughter? My son is also upset about this to. Thank you

Our Response:
There are no automatic rights for this but some cases have been successful. Could you not just ask your son to bring her to see you?
LawAndParents - 25-Apr-18 @ 12:55 PM
Our niece is a single parent to a 20 month old boy, she drinks, takes drugs, spends most nights out with her friends while other family members look after the child. For the sake of the child’s well being and upbringing If this carries on my wife and I want to step in and apply for custody. Would this be an impossible task or is it something that would be possible to do under family custody laws?
Concerned - 23-Apr-18 @ 7:46 PM
Hi my Daughter has just had a baby who is 2month old. My Daughter is not with the Dad but he sees her regularly and so does the other Nan. I was seeing her 2 days a week for a couple of hours. This as suddenly stopped for no reason. The other Nan and myself do not get on and it looks like she has convinced my Daughter that she shouldn't let her come to see me. I have asked to see her but just get that the other Nan has got her. I'm finding this very upsetting cause I have done nothink wrong for my Daughter to be like this. Do I have rights to see my Granddaughter? My son is also upset about this to. Thank you
T - 23-Apr-18 @ 4:54 PM
Chnd456 - Your Question:
I have had my grandchildren of 5 and 3 living with me since Sept neither parent gives us any money we feed and clothe them both and run them to and from thier mums house I now need to know can I claim for them and would I stand a chance to get cusdoy of them both

Our Response:
Before you are able to apply for any benefits or maintenance in respect of the children, you will need to have an official residence or guardianship order in place. Citizens' Advice will assist with your applications if you are not sure how to approach this.
LawAndParents - 9-Apr-18 @ 11:12 AM
I have had my grandchildrenof 5 and 3 living with me since Sept neither parent gives us any money we feed and clothe them both and run them to and from thier mums house I now need to know can I claim for them and would I stand a chance to get cusdoy of them both
Chnd456 - 6-Apr-18 @ 5:33 PM
I would like to reply to Grammy and all other grandparents who s grandchildren are in foster care. If you are able to care for your grandchildren and the authorities are not letting you have contact apply for an SGO. Special Guardianship Order. You will need a solicitor and need to be assessed but what have you got to lose at the very least you may gain contact.
Ange - 31-Mar-18 @ 2:09 PM
Cherryblossom - Your Question:
Hi.Over the past year I have been in therapy unpicking years of psychological abuse at the hands of my parents. I was also subjected to physical abuse on a handful of occasions. My mother is mentally unwell and has tried to kill herself in the past which I was subjected to as a child. However the years of abuse they covered up with medicating me and saying I was unwell so it carried on. Last year I went no contact after my mother squared up to me in front of my son. I had time away to explore ny feelings with my therapist and tried to implement boundaries however they didn't stick to these long and my son began complaining about being unwell all the time and being messed up in his head like my mother had said to me all these years. I reduced contact again to one weekly with my son until my dad hit me in front of him. I tried to explain how I felt but had to block them and cut contact for ny own sake. Again with the support of my therapist. Now I've received a mediation/court letter.I dont want contact with then and I don't feel they are healthy to be around my son because of the damage they have caused me.Legally where do I stand?

Our Response:
You don't have to see them if you choose not to. If they want contact with your son, the court will listen to your viewpoint and if necessary involve others' opinions. If you don't feel they are a threat to your son, perhaps you could arrange pick up and collection via a third party?
LawAndParents - 20-Mar-18 @ 12:10 PM
Hi. Over the past year I have been in therapy unpicking years of psychological abuse at the hands of my parents.I was also subjected to physical abuse on a handful of occasions.My mother is mentally unwell and has tried to kill herself in the past which I was subjected to as a child.However the years of abuse they covered up with medicating me and saying I was unwell so it carried on.Last year I went no contact after my mother squared up to me in front of my son.I had time away to explore ny feelings with my therapist and tried to implement boundaries however they didn't stick to these long and my sonbegan complaining about being unwell all the time and being messed up in his head like my mother had said to me all these years.I reduced contact again to one weekly with my son until my dad hit me in front of him.I tried to explain how I felt but had to block them and cut contact for ny own sake.Again with the support of my therapist.Now I've received a mediation/court letter. I dont want contact with then and I don't feel they are healthy to be around my son because of the damage they have caused me. Legally where do I stand?
Cherryblossom - 18-Mar-18 @ 5:35 PM
I have a15 year old son approaching 16 he was upset his sister invaded his privacy got angry and lashed out I as mother told him he is wrong shouted and grounded him at that point he walked out and went to live with nanny he won’t see me and has said he will only come here if I don’t shout and getter better internet meanwhile in his nans care he got arrested had his hand broke not attending school so I got angry and shouted at mother in law she has now told me he won’t return and she is going to court to get parental responsibility can she do this
Lio - 15-Mar-18 @ 7:27 PM
Nik - Your Question:
Hi , me and my ex don't get on any more and would like to where I stand to him seeing his son he is away most of the time with work and sees his son when it suits him but my son is getting to emotional when he leaves and becomes angry and tearful this could last for days and is effecting him he is on the birth certificate can I stop him from seeing his son we were never married.

Our Response:
Would it really be fair on your son to remove contact with his father? Try and come to some arrangement for the father to see his son at specific times around the father's working times so you can prepare your son in advance. The more this happens, the less your son will be upset.
LawAndParents - 13-Mar-18 @ 12:51 PM
Hi , me and my ex don't get on any more and would like to where I stand to him seeing his son he is away most of the time with work and sees his son when it suits him but my son is getting to emotional when he leaves and becomes angry and tearful this could last for days and is effecting him he is on the birth certificate can I stop him from seeing his son we were never married .
Nik - 10-Mar-18 @ 5:25 PM
Recently asked to leave house which we shared with S & Dil and GD. No reason given.Son died 28117.new beau moved in Sept17, Had to leave 070117.They in house now.They deserted us over Xmas to his parents hse.only ret once wed moved.GD was on CP as baby as dil had child prev lives with her mum under residents order.now 12 yrs old.shall I write to dil asking to see GD using your template letter?
Gmail.com - 2-Feb-18 @ 7:01 AM
Grammy - Your Question:
Social services have denied me contact with 2 of my grandchildren. They are in separate foster homes. I am their only Grandparent and always had a very close bond with them. I have complanned without success I have just gone to Stage two complaints with social care. I haveenough also contacted the Ombudsman. Without going into detail we feel discriminated against and there are many issues we have as the case is complex. Have you any advice what I can do next.Regards Pauline Sweeney

Our Response:
We can't really advise here as we don't know any of the details. It sounds as though you've followed all the right procedures to raise your complaint though.
LawAndParents - 29-Jan-18 @ 10:17 AM
Social services have denied me contact with 2 of my grandchildren . They are in separate foster homes. I am their only Grandparent and always had a very close bond with them. I have complanned without success I have just gone to Stage two complaints with social care. I have enough also contacted the Ombudsman.Without going into detail we feel discriminated against and there are manyissues we have as the case is complex. Have you any advice what I can do next. Regards Pauline Sweeney
Grammy - 26-Jan-18 @ 12:03 AM
My sons ex went into a homeless hostel with my grandchildren she got social services involved saying he was an unfit father ! This was found to be not the case ! Now she won’t let him see the children! She sends abusive texts and he has blocked her no ! How can he get to see his children legally ! What if she won’t agree to mediation??
Den - 25-Jan-18 @ 10:04 AM
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