Home > Parent's Rights > Your Rights as a Grandparent

Your Rights as a Grandparent

By: Elizabeth Mugan BA/BSc, PGDipLaw, BVC, CIArb - Updated: 1 Feb 2017 |
 
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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Hi my daughters fathet and paternal grandmother have not seen her since she was three months old except for one visit by her father which lasted about an hour. Thete had been no contact at all other than this she is now 5 years old. Her grandmother has expressed a wish to see her, however i do not trust them to look after her and she does not know them her grandmother is disabled and so i dont think she is able to look after my daughter who is very boisterous. I am scared that they will go to a court and demand she stays with them for periods which she doesnt want. Is it possible for them to do this? I do not trust her father on his own he has an awful temper and more than once pinned me down, grabbed at my arm, tried to control me and my actions via emotional blackmail and he hit me across the face once but i cannot prove any of this as there were never witnesses.
Elle - 1-Feb-17 @ 2:33 PM
My sons father has passed away, his paternal grandparents only ever look to have my son every 4-6 weeks, and every time he comes back he tells me they scold him all the time & he is always very agitated. It can take me a few days to a week to get him back to his normal self.. The grandparents never text or ring to speak to him. Would they have any rights to see him if I stopped him from going to them as it's always on their terms when they decide to have him
EM2017 - 16-Jan-17 @ 5:10 PM
Hi! So basically my partners mother has been threatening to take us to court to get rights to see our two children. They are 8 and 4yrs old. She hasnt seen the eldest since he was 4months old and never met the other. Shes had absolutely nothing to do with them in all this time. Shes a nasty spiteful woman who thinks she can can call the shots and have her way. Will the courts take her seriously? My partner hasnt had a relationship with her in over 8yrs either and doesn't want her near them at all.
Nikki - 31-Dec-16 @ 10:42 PM
My daughters paternal grandparents used to have regular contact with my daughter but they went away in july for 3 weeks and havent contacted me since to set up seing my daughter. In September i had alot of horrible messages off her father and he claimed that next time his mum and dad see her they were going to take her away from me. Now 4months later they are houndiny my family members that i get intouch with them about them sein my little girl despite them knowin my number and that they also have facebook and know where i live they have not approached me! They have said if i dont contact them they will take me to court over them seing her! She isnt allowed to see her dad through social services recommendation and also she doesnt want to know her dad. I just dont know what to do? I do not trust them with her as when she was on supervised contact with her dad them surpervising they let him take her to the shop and park on his own!!!! How would court handle this?
XXSARXX - 7-Dec-16 @ 12:33 PM
Nannyp - Your Question:
Hi I will try to make this as short as possible. myself and my husband were granted residency of our then 1 yr old grand daughter with a residency order stating contact for mum 1 day per week with a gradual increase to be arranged by us to eventually going into full care with mum. over the years mother has had very messed about contact less than 1 day a week on average. She has 2 further children which she is managing with aslong as she stays in the support umbrella. Our g/daughter has been with us nearly 7 years now and her mother is now saying she wants her full time! Yet 6 weeks ago said she wanted to break all contact with her, my head is in turmoil as last time we went to court it cost 12k and we really don't have any savings now. I fell out with her over wanting to break contact and now this is what she does threaten to take our g.daughter away. She has had no input on her upbringing what so ever or schooling PLEASE CAN SOMEONE ADVISE

Our Response:
Have you spoken to social services about this? They might be able to help with communication between you and the mother. Court might be the only other solution if you feel the mother would not be able to cope / or it's in your granddaugter's best interests to stay with you.
LawAndParents - 8-Nov-16 @ 11:20 AM
Hi I will try to make this as short as possible.. myself and my husband were granted residency of our then 1 yr old grand daughter with a residency order stating contact for mum 1 day per week with a gradual increase to be arranged by us to eventually going into full care with mum... over the years mother has had very messed about contact less than 1 day a week on average. She has 2 further children which she is managing with aslong as she stays in the support umbrella. Our g/daughter has been with us nearly 7 years now and her mother is now saying she wants her full time! Yet 6 weeks ago said she wanted to break all contact with her, my head is in turmoil as last time we went to court it cost 12k and we really don't have any savings now. I fell out with her over wanting to break contact and now this is what she does threaten to take our g.daughter away. She has had no input on her upbringing what so ever or schooling PLEASE CAN SOMEONE ADVISE
Nannyp - 6-Nov-16 @ 2:54 PM
Rach - Your Question:
My son and his girlfriend have a daughter and my son is moving back home but his ex is making arrangements for us see Isabelle who's 3 and coz im the only texting the mother because my son cant go any were near her ,she makes plans for us have the child but then she not replying my texts so we haven't seen isabelle my son should have equal share of isabelle but the mother wont let us see her ,

Our Response:
Your son may need to consult a solicitor with a view to formalise contact arrangements so that a breach of the agreement can be enforced if necessary.
LawAndParents - 27-Oct-16 @ 11:18 AM
Missc - Your Question:
My daughter has stopped me from seeing her child (my granddaughter)I have bonded with the baby now 8 months.helpedmy daughter financially with the baby ,they stayed at my house for a month as my daughter had 3 separate reports to social services for neglect! I have played a massive role in the baby's life! We fell out a month ago as her main focus was not on the baby but Facebook she was not attending to the baby's needs so I told my daughter! She left my house and I've not see her since but I did have seen the baby as my other daughter sorted this but 15 days on my I'm now being denied access to the baby I'm devastated as we had such a strong bond.i really don't know what too do

Our Response:
As a grandmother, there's not a great deal you can do legally. To try and resolve this, stay in touch with all other relatives and friends who have contact with your daughter and maybe they can help bring about a reconciliation between you both.
LawAndParents - 26-Oct-16 @ 12:56 PM
My son and his girlfriend have a daughter and my son is moving back home but his ex is making arrangements for us see Isabelle who's 3 and coz im the only texting the mother because my son cant go any were near her ,she makes plans for us have the child but then she not replying my texts so we haven't seen isabelle my son should have equal share of isabelle but the mother wont let us see her ,
Rach - 25-Oct-16 @ 3:12 PM
My daughter has stopped me from seeing her child (my granddaughter) I have bonded with the baby now 8 months.helpedmy daughter financially with the baby ,they stayed at my house for a month as my daughter had 3 separate reports to social services for neglect! I have played a massive role in the baby's life! We fell out a month ago as her main focus was not on the baby but Facebook she was not attending to the baby's needs so I told my daughter! She left my house and I've not see her since but I did have seen the baby as my other daughter sorted this but 15 days on my I'm now being denied access to the baby I'm devastated as we had such a strong bond .i really don't know what too do
Missc - 25-Oct-16 @ 10:03 AM
Mrfox90 - Your Question:
Myself and my partner are looking to move away and start a new life outside of the uk.My mother in law is making this decision very difficult as she is claiming her grandparental rights means we cant move unless she says so and if we do that she can put in to social services and apply for a forced addoption.Now I know alot of what she is saying is a load of rubbish but does anyone have any advise on what she can and can't do about this matter?

Our Response:
She can't do anything about this as a grandparent unless she is currently a registered legal guardian etc.
LawAndParents - 17-Oct-16 @ 12:50 PM
Myself and my partner are looking to move away and start a new life outside of the uk. My mother in law is making this decision very difficult as she is claiming her grandparental rights means we cant move unless she says so and if we do that she can put in to social services and apply for a forced addoption. Now I know alot of what she is saying is a load of rubbish but does anyone have any advise on what she can and can't do about this matter?
Mrfox90 - 16-Oct-16 @ 1:33 PM
Hi my son and his girlfriend have had a baby my son's girlfriend had other kids what have been took off her due to domestic violence (not my son) so the ss took my granddaughter away she went in to foster parent from birth we had to go to court and try and get her home my son and his girlfriend had to sigh all rights over to me as I was trying to get her to life with me but unfortunately the judge Placed her for adoption 5 month ago we have tryed everything to try and stop this the whole thing was corrupt the sw never done a viability assessment on me and the guardian never done any work with me either so I should of had a fair appeal but no 1 would help me do it they went on my past history what I have no ss involved I have put all my wrong doing right and I have my 3 children at home with my youngest being only 18 month old but yet I was not allowed my granddaughter at home with me the sw lied about everything and no 1 done ther job right but yet the judge took ther side my son and his girlfriend have put papers into court to provoke the adoption it's killing me and braking my heart that I can not see her what can I do please help all I do is cry I cannot get it out my mind of what I can do ther must be something are someone who can advise are help me thank you
dee29 - 6-Oct-16 @ 12:27 PM
Sherry - Your Question:
Hi, the father of my first born daughter has been pretty absent her whole life, even when we were in a relationship. He's claiming he doesn't have to pay any maintenance as we were together for the first 15 months of her life - he literally didn't pay for a thing - and is still claiming he doesn't need to pay anything as he "barely sees her" etc. I've given him plenty of chances to see her and he's "forgotten" or ended up coming in the evening and moaning about her being asleep. He's ordering me to give our daughter to him over night all weekend, or he'll take me to court etc. He cannot handle her overnight, let alone for even five minutes holding her. He has a past of drug and alcohol abuse, doesn't drive carefully and drives under the influence of alcohol and weed, he was the reason for a car accident last month, yet expects me to just happily hand my daughter over. I just don't know what to do, what rights does he have?

Our Response:
Firstly, he should be paying child maintenance regardless of whether he sees his daughter or not. Secondly, if you feel your daughter is at risk if she spends time alone with her father, the courts will order an investigation into this when he applies for contact. The court will make a decision based on the findings of the report and what they consider to be in the best interests of your daughter.
LawAndParents - 5-Oct-16 @ 2:40 PM
Hi, the father of my first born daughter has been pretty absent her whole life, even when we were in a relationship. He's claiming he doesn't have to pay any maintenance as we were together for the first 15 months of her life - he literally didn't pay for a thing - and is still claiming he doesn't need to pay anything as he "barely sees her" etc. I've given him plenty of chances to see her and he's "forgotten" or ended up coming in the evening and moaning about her being asleep. He's ordering me to give our daughter to him over night all weekend, or he'll take me to court etc. He cannot handle her overnight, let alone for even five minutes holding her. He has a past of drug and alcohol abuse, doesn't drive carefully and drives under the influence of alcohol and weed, he was the reason for a car accident last month, yet expects me to just happily hand my daughter over. I just don't know what to do, what rights does he have?
Sherry - 4-Oct-16 @ 2:22 PM
bren - Your Question:
Hi I need help. My son and his partner had a baby 6 weeks ago but have just separated, although they never lived together my son had regular contact with his daughter. My son and his partner still live with their parents. How does he go about ensuring he keeps that contact. ? Also over the past six weeks I myself (paternal grandmother ) has not seen my grandaughter much since she was born down to the mother and maturnal nana not allowing this. What rights do I have if any

Our Response:
You son's daugher has a right to contact with her father. Hopefully your son and his partner will be able to agree contact arrangements amicably. As a grandparent you do not have any specific contact rights.
LawAndParents - 21-Sep-16 @ 2:11 PM
Hi I need help. My son and his partner had a baby 6 weeks ago buthave just separated,although they never lived together my son had regular contact with his daughter. My son and his partner still live with their parents. How does he go about ensuring he keeps that contact. ? Also over the past six weeks I myself(paternal grandmother ) has not seen my grandaughter much since she was born down to the mother and maturnal nana not allowing this. What rights do I have if any
bren - 20-Sep-16 @ 2:48 AM
Hi I have 3 children to a previous and have another child to my current partner and since before I got pregnant with his child his family think they can tell us how to live our lives and what we should be doing how to parent etc and through many discussions we have tried to sort things like adults but they keep throwing it in our faces not accepting their behaviour as wrong and we have now been left with no option but to cut them off it started with his mother and now she's turned the whole family against us through not getting her own way! She emotionally unstable and a heavy drinker and now my partners father has threatend us with court? We really have tried to fix this but they just won't listen we have no choice but to cut them off now as causing so much stress which isn't fair on anyone. What are the chances of contact? Barring in mind 3 of the children are not blood related! Thanks for reading.
Purple rain - 13-Sep-16 @ 2:37 PM
My daughter's ex (they were never married) has contacted his son's doctors saying he wants access to his medical records.My daughter would never had denied him this and had he asked she would have agreed.The dad refuses to speak to my daughter about anything and just goes behind her back about everything.The doctors have written to her asking permission for him to have access.She is happy to do this but the dad says that they had no right to contact her and tell them what he had requested.Is this true?
Mandy - 19-Jul-16 @ 3:38 PM
Hello, this is something similar but do aunties have some form of right to see there nieces due to my sister keep trying to stop me seeing my nieces because I'm pregnant with my new partner who she doesn't like. I have been there since birth for both them children watched them be born and now she uses them as weapons against me, they both love me very freely. Just hope I can have some form of legal rights to see them
Amyrose24 - 17-Mar-16 @ 9:59 PM
I have a 7 month old girl and recently her father walked out. he had cheated in the relationship taken drugs and had a drink problem. I am not happy for my daughter to stay over night with him because of his drink problem and the drugs. his mum also drinks alot to. when we split he was verbally abusive and I was to rot in the burning pits of hell for all he cared.he sees our daughter on a tuesday and thursday from 2-4 and a friday 2-5 in a mutral place where he has to sign in and oit as proof of me letting him see her. he is now trying to go to court and claming it has to be on his terms. am I doing the right thing in doing what I am doing? is stopping him having her over night because I am worried he will be drinking or taking drugs wrong? I dont know what to do and the verbal and emotional abuse is continuing.
arrrr - 13-Mar-16 @ 11:56 PM
Hi I am becoming a grandmother, Both partners at still together but I feel as are not right to have a child. They partners are 16 and 17 years old and now have moved to Scotland and am in Northern Ireland. My son has mental health problems and so does the mother. I feel as is the rights of the child will not be meet. What rights do I have to get custody of the child?
Xxx - 3-Feb-16 @ 4:58 PM
Hello My daughter in law has refused my son to see his two children, however, she has told me that I can see them. My son and myself had them at my flat on Sundays for the day while she worked suddenly she has stopped it. I want to see my grandchildren I am not sure what I should do.
busylizzy - 9-Jan-16 @ 6:01 PM
nanny - Your Question:
Hi could you help we are currently raising 2 of our grandaughters due to mom being an addict one is on a residency the other is an sgo ,we have just confirmed that mom is pregnant again her partner is an illegal immigrant who we assume has deliberately got our daughter in this situation so as to remain in this country my daughter says this is not true and that he will help look after the baby , he cannot work or claim benefits and even though he lives with my daughter she tell anyone in authority that he doesn't , my question is this if ss says we are too have this baby will we have to go through the fostering again or can we ask for a residence order as the fostering route was very stressful.

Our Response:
We really can't say for sure as we don't know the full details of your circumstances. Even if you apply for a residence order or adoption, you may still have to go through stringent vetting processes before it is granted.
LawAndParents - 4-Jan-16 @ 11:13 AM
Hi could you help we are currently raising 2 of our grandaughters due to mom being an addict one is on a residency the other is an sgo ,we have just confirmed that mom is pregnant again her partner is an illegal immigrant who we assume has deliberately got our daughter in this situation so as to remain in this country my daughter says this is not true and that he will help look after the baby , he cannot work or claim benefits and even though he lives with my daughter she tell anyone in authority that he doesn't , my question is this if ss says we are too have this baby will we have to go through the fostering again or can we ask for a residence order as the fostering route was very stressful .
nanny - 3-Jan-16 @ 9:11 AM
Is my sons grandmother leagaly obligated to aswer my phone if i am trying to contact my son? ...Is she allowed to block my number when she has my son?
Joshking - 29-Dec-15 @ 6:14 PM
tahmina13 - Your Question:
Hello, the mother of my step daughter died back in March 2013, M (step daughter) was nearly 3. M's grandparents took her in, when my partner (S) phoned up the grandparents said if you want information about M you need to go to court, so we did, we were fighting over where she should live in. In June 2015 the courts ordered that both parties has a spared ownership over her but shes at school so term time she lives with them as she has been living there all this time and the holidays are ours. Since then the gp has broken the order and making it hard for us to have her in our time. We have fear that they are not looking after her well enough. We can't really go back to court and it costed us too much money and we have 2 little ones of our own. We have tried getting 3rd parties in but it's not working. S said if nothing is happening soon he is going to give up in her and walking away and the gp are brainwashing M into not wanting to see us. I'm worried S is going to do something bad and get arrested for it or when the gp die she will go into care and he won't do anything about it. I have tried talking it over with him lots of times but he's not listening. What should I do?

Our Response:
If they are in breach of the court order then you should really go back and to the courts...give them a call and find out how much it will cost, they may be able to direct you to some form of assistance. Walking away from a child is not really the responsible thing to do especially if you believe the child might be at risk of harm...you should try to persuade your partner of this. He is the only one (as the natural father) who can actively ensure he partakes in his daughter's life.
LawAndParents - 10-Dec-15 @ 10:23 AM
Hello, the mother of my step daughter died back in March 2013, M (step daughter) was nearly 3. M's grandparents took her in, when my partner (S) phoned up the grandparents said if you want information about M you need to go to court, so we did, we were fighting over where she should live in. In June 2015 the courts ordered that both parties has a shared ownership over her but shes at school so term time she lives with them as she has been living there all this time and the holidays are ours. Since then the grand parents have broken the order and making it hard for us to have her in our time. We have fear that they are not looking after her well enough. We can't really go back to court and it costed us too much money and we have 2 little ones of our own. We have tried getting 3rd parties in but it's not working. S said if nothing is happening soon he is going to give up in her and walking away and the gparents are brainwashing M into not wanting to see us. I'm worried S is going to do something bad and get arrested for it or when the gparent die she will go into care and he won't do anything about it. I have tried talking it over with him lots of times but he's not listening. What should I do?
tahmina13 - 9-Dec-15 @ 5:51 AM
Hi, I have an 8 month old son, his father (not on the birth certificate) has not really bothered with him, only when pressured to by his family, he went 5 months without seeing him he text me once in that time if he could see him the following morning but I already had plans so told him I was busy, he didn't message after that. His mum and sister would come and see my son and I decided I didn't need to keep seeing them with my son as his dad wasn't bothering and his sister has done nothing but say horrible things about me and cause trouble from the day I got pregnant I have kept all messages and posts on FB she put about me, same with the father of my son I have every message from him and what I have said also, I have kept a diary about an contact he has had with my son since birth. When I decided I wasn't going to see the aunt but didn't say this, I got a lot grief saying that I should be putting my sons best interests first, which I am, why should I see them with my son when the dad doesn't bother, so after the messages the dad then starts messaging me demanding to see his son and his family to see him, I've never said no he can't see him at all, I don't trust him to have my son alone as he drives around illegally all the time, I feel if he was to have my son he would just leave him with mum and sister or take him out in the car to see his girlfriend who he chose over his son as she didn't want him to see my son, I'm assuming this is why the 2months of no contact them 2 visits so his family could see him again then 5 months not seeing him then visiting him twice so His family can see my son again. The sister has now taken to asking my friends about my life if I'm still breastfeeding etc, I'm assuming so she can try see him without me around and argue for her brother to see him alone, I feel the father has not made any effort to see him. Only his family pushing him, the sister tried to organise contact with me for her brother, I told her that it's not to do with her its up to her brother to sort out seeing his son, she said she would supervise the contact, I said the father needs to build a bond himself first with his son not having someone to hold his hand. I'm so angry they are questioning my friends about my life and my son. What can I do? Please help me, they caused me so much stress during my pregnancy I had an awful pregnancy and started to go in to early labour at one point. I'm at breaking point now, they don't deserve my beautiful son. The dad clearly isn't interested in seeing him.
Elly - 25-Nov-15 @ 9:40 PM
Annoyed - Your Question:
I have a two year old child but her dads not involved in her life. She was seeing her dad and new wife once a week since she was born but this has recently broke down. I have not stopped contact but they have said to me they will go down a different route to seeing her. My daughter has come home with marks on her and has said that her 'nanny' has hit her in her face. Even though her nanny is not related through marriage what right does she have to take me to court for access. She has also been putting post about me online. The reason it broke down was because I asked them not to do something an my daughters been coming home talking about it. Thanks

Our Response:
if you think your child has been harmed in anyway you should report it to the police. It is unlikely a non-relative would be given access against your wishes even if the "nanny" tried to take you to court.
LawAndParents - 24-Nov-15 @ 11:29 AM
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