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Your Rights as a Grandparent

By: Elizabeth Mugan BA/BSc, PGDipLaw, BVC, CIArb - Updated: 25 Sep 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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My granddaughter has been taken in to foster care. Can I see my granddaughter as social services won’t give me any information at all as I have no rights! I’m devastated and desperate to see my granddaughter I don’t know what to do?!
Sammyloo - 25-Sep-17 @ 11:53 AM
Joe - Your Question:
Hi, my husband and I were stopped from having any contact with our grandson over 4 years ago. We tried mediation within months of this happening but they ignored our request. We have not had any contact with our son and grandson since they chose to do this and after 2 years they were later divorced. He still has his son, our grandson, regularly and his ex has remarried and had another child since and our son is now in a long term relationship. This has caused a massive family rift as my husbands family still see our son and grandson and it has been extremely hard to continue having a relationship with any of them. My side of the family are not allowed to see our grandson either. My question is if we no longer see our son are we still allowed to go to court as I'm sure he has no intention of any reconciliation with us? I don't know his address as he has moved since, or my ex daughter in laws but I'm sure we could find out somehow. We really are and have been for a long time, at a loss as what to do for the best. We chose after much soul searching to let them go as we couldn't face any more rejection or upset but our grandson is now at school and it breaks our heart that we don't know him and he doesn't know us, we have so much love to give which we gave him for the first year of his life. With hope x

Our Response:
There isn't really a great deal you can do unfortunately. The Grandparent Plus website does have some information which could be useful.
LawAndParents - 18-Sep-17 @ 2:08 PM
Hi, my husband and I were stopped from having any contact with our grandson over 4 years ago. We tried mediation within months of this happening but they ignored our request. We have not had any contact with our son and grandson since they chose to do this and after 2 years they were later divorced. He still has his son, our grandson, regularly and his ex has remarried and had another child since and our son is now in a long term relationship. This has caused a massive family rift as my husbands family still see our son and grandson and it has been extremely hard to continue having a relationship with any of them. My side of the family are not allowed to see our grandson either. My question is if we no longer see our son are we still allowed to go to court as I'm sure he has no intention of any reconciliation with us?I don't know his address as he has moved since, or my ex daughter in laws but I'm sure we could find out somehow. We really are and have been for a long time, at a loss as what to do for the best. We chose after much soul searching to let them go as we couldn't face any more rejection or upset but our grandson is now at school and it breaks our heart that we don't know him and he doesn't know us, we have so much love to give which we gave him for the first year of his life. With hope x
Joe - 16-Sep-17 @ 5:53 PM
Lel - Your Question:
Hello. My daughter as gone back to her abusive partner. After being in a women's refuge. She as 3 sons. The oldest age 12 as told us he wad threatened twice by his father. Police took a statement from my grandson. My daughter told the refuge she was coming to live with us. Which is a lie. She's ignoring all of us. Social services are now involved. Because of safe guard worries. I am very worried about our grandsons who live 60 miles away. I want visiting rights

Our Response:
Contact the relevant social services department first of all. They may be able to make suggestions as to how you can become involved in the care of your grandchildren (eg guardianship order etc). Unfortunately if you merely want "visiting rights" you may have to apply via the courts.
LawAndParents - 11-Sep-17 @ 2:13 PM
Hello. My daughter as gone back to her abusive partner. After being in a women's refuge. She as 3 sons. The oldest age 12 as told us he wad threatened twice by his father. Police took a statement from my grandson. My daughter told the refuge she was coming to live with us. Which is a lie. She's ignoring all of us. Social services are now involved. Because of safe guard worries. I am very worried about our grandsons who live 60 miles away. I want visiting rights
Lel - 9-Sep-17 @ 4:10 PM
Fedup - Your Question:
My son and girlfriend have split up and she has stopped my son from seeing his son. I have asked to be apart of my grandsons life but she has said her solicitor has told her to stop contact with all my sons family. I live 3 hours drive away from my grandson so I used to collect him and have him for a week at a time a couple of times a year. I haven't seen my grandson for 5 months now. What can I do

Our Response:
You grandson has a right to see his father, so the child's mother should not really prevent this. A good solicitor would not advise a client to cut off all contact with her ex's family unless domestic violence had taken place, in which case the police would also be involved. She is either lying or has been given bad legal advice. Your son should consider mediation to arrange contact times with his son. As grandparents you can apply for contact time but it's up to the courts whether to grant this.
LawAndParents - 6-Sep-17 @ 2:22 PM
My son and girlfriend have split up and she has stopped my son from seeing his son. I have asked to be apart of my grandsons life but she has said her solicitor has told her to stop contact with all my sons family. I live 3 hours drive away from my grandson so I used to collect him and have him for a week at a time a couple of times a year. I haven't seen my grandson for 5 months now. What can I do
Fedup - 4-Sep-17 @ 9:38 PM
Hi my exes grandmother is wanting access to my two sons. She's not saw then or bothered with them in 7 years. My boys r now 11 and 9 they don't know who she is or remember her! The trial is on Monday. She's only wanting access for her son who isn't allowed to see my boys. (Judge ordered this in 2010) I'm totally against it as she didn't even bother with them when she saw them.and when her son told me he didn't want contact she didn't ask to see them!
mcolqu - 24-Aug-17 @ 3:04 AM
Jue - Your Question:
Hi my sons ex girlfriend has stopped us from seeing our grandaughter, she's 8 and we've always had her from being a baby, it's been about 5 months now , we've been blocked from all contact but when I tried to organise something she said my grandaughter didn't want to come anymore, which I find it hard to believe my little girl of 10 and her where like sisters, what can I do ,I can't afford big court costs

Our Response:
Please follow the steps advised in the above article, we can't really add anything to that comprehensive informationwe're sorry.
LawAndParents - 23-Aug-17 @ 12:24 PM
Hi my sons ex girlfriend has stopped us from seeing our grandaughter,she's 8 and we've always had her from being a baby, it's been about 5 months now , we've been blocked from all contact but when I tried to organise something she said my grandaughter didn't want to come anymore, which I find it hard to believe my little girl of 10 and her where like sisters, what can I do ,I can't afford big court costs
Jue - 21-Aug-17 @ 3:12 PM
My ex and I have come to an agreement that in the best interest of our children, we no longer want our children to have contact with their narcissistic grandmother. This woman has abused her own son mentally and is clearly unstable but now taking us to court under "grandparental rights" what do we do?
Lou-Lou - 12-Jul-17 @ 6:48 PM
Steph - Your Question:
Hi My daughter had contact arrangement with her Nan once a mo th and she now doesn't want see her because of the stress and upset she caused over an adoption by my husband trying to be put through if I stop contact can I go to prison for not letting my daughter go she. She doesn't want to.

Our Response:
Don't simply refuse as this would be breach of the court order. You can make an application to vary the terms ofthe order via the courts.
LawAndParents - 7-Jul-17 @ 2:35 PM
Hi My daughter had contact arrangement with her Nan once a mo th and she now doesn't want see her because of the stress and upset she caused over an adoption by my husband trying to be put through if I stop contact can I go to prison for not letting my daughter go she. She doesn't want to.
Steph - 6-Jul-17 @ 8:21 PM
Can anything be done,we have spent £10,000 on court fees to try and get some access to our grandson,his mother has turned him against us and he is now saying he doesn't want to see us. We can't beleive this as until our son and his wife divorced we had a very good close relationship with him
Lyn - 1-Jun-17 @ 10:27 PM
Hi. My ex husband has access rights and I have a residential order. He works around the globe and lives on the other end of the country. I'd like my parents and adult daughter to have residency of my children if anything happened to me and I was unable to care for them myself. This is to ensure co tunuiyy of care and minimalise any disruption as they could keep them In Their home where they have always lived. How can I do this if my ex partner disagrees. He currently has 2 days access every two weeks and 4 weeks holidays.
hhy6 - 31-May-17 @ 7:18 PM
My daughters ex partner with whom she has 2 young children has a recent history of alcohol and drug abuse but is going to a solicitor to gain more rights of access to the children. My daughter has never refused access to the children but is becoming increasingly concerned as he appears to be becoming more emotionally unstable.What can she do?
GGB123 - 30-May-17 @ 8:24 PM
mellym1 - Your Question:
I got taken to court about 7-8 years ago for access to my child by the grandparent, who got a once a month over night stay and every other saturday day visit. it also said about agreeing to different times days etc if cant make it or if more contact.which I did because of my old job years ago she stayed every other saturday til I started a different job 2 years ago but I still allowed the every other weekend stay if my child wanted to do so.anyway my child is 10 this year and im now due my 2nd child any moment now (she is not the grandparent of this child) my 10 year old has decided the last month that she dont want to go to the nans as she wants to spend the last few weeks with me being an only child before baby arrives and she also says that her nan is boring and shes not allowed to do anything except see the same things every time she goes or she has to spend time with her nans friends etc.her nan has been ok with this or she said she was anyway. til today when I recieved another letter for court access!!i havent stopped her going, she decides herself to call her nan to say she dont or does want to go. her nan will try and bribe her which sometimes has worked but once the phone call ends she says she dont want to go still but feels like she has to or her nan will tell her off! (her words)anyway what do I do now? shes old enough to know what she wants to do and its always her choice! do I need to comply with the letter? im due my baby in 2 days and I dont have the money for court!

Our Response:
It might be worth having a discussion with the grandparent about this and trying to arrange something more relaxed without having to go back to court. Just letting your daughter decide, might not be the right approach, but nor would forcing her to go every fortnight. Try and come to a compromise, maybe arrange for something different that your daughter could do with her nan etc? That would make it less boring for your daughter and make the grandparent feel more involved.
LawAndParents - 30-May-17 @ 11:22 AM
i got taken to court about 7-8 years ago for access to my child by the grandparent, who got a once a month over night stay and every other saturday day visit. it also said about agreeing to different times days etc if cant make it or if more contact. which i did because of my old job years ago she stayed every other saturday til i started a different job 2 years ago but i still allowed the every other weekend stay if my child wanted to do so.. anyway my child is 10 this year and im now due my 2nd child any moment now (she is not the grandparent of this child) my 10 year old has decided the last month that she dont want to go to the nans as she wants to spend the last few weeks with me being an only child before baby arrives and she also says that her nan is boring and shes not allowed to do anything except see the same things every time she goes or she has to spend time with her nans friends etc. her nan has been ok with this or she said she was anyway. til today when i recieved another letter for court access!! i havent stopped her going, she decides herself to call her nan to say she dont or does want to go. her nan will try and bribe her which sometimes has worked but once the phone call ends she says she dont want to go still but feels like she has to or her nan will tell her off! (her words) anyway what do i do now? shes old enough to know what she wants to do and its always her choice! do i need to comply with the letter? im due my baby in 2 days and i dont have the money for court!
mellym1 - 27-May-17 @ 12:02 PM
Dori- Your Question:
Is a grandparent that's see's the kids that are in care. Gets an asbo and aswe'll as 2 charges of assault and criminal damage against them are they still aloud them to stay at weekend??

Our Response:
What did the court recommend? Has social services been involved?
LawAndParents - 9-May-17 @ 11:32 AM
Is a grandparent that's see's thekids that are in care. Gets an asbo and aswe'll as 2 charges of assault and criminal damage against them are they still aloud them to stay at weekend??
Dori - 7-May-17 @ 4:39 PM
pls iam the caregiver of my grand son now 2 his mother. is on drug not staying with us but she did not registered his birth yet she dont want too pls help what can I do too get it hubby got new job but must take bus for 22 hour. as we can fly 2 hour. pls help
riedah - 27-Mar-17 @ 10:59 AM
Hi, I'm with the father of my child he has agreed that I can have residency so if we split up she will stay with me how do I go about it? Also I've had to stop his mother from seeing her as she's quite a horrible person an hasn't seen her since the day she was born? What are my rights
Minnie01 - 16-Mar-17 @ 11:29 AM
Missy - Your Question:
Myself and my partner have not had contact with his mother for years as she attacked me. I have now had a baby boy and she is now taken us to court for access will the courts give her access if both parents refuse it.

Our Response:
It's very difficult for a grandparent to get access rights via the courts, but these things are up to individual judges.
LawAndParents - 13-Mar-17 @ 11:39 AM
Myself and my partner have not had contact with his mother for years as she attacked me. I have now had a baby boy and she is now taken us to court for access will the courts give her access if both parents refuse it.
Missy - 10-Mar-17 @ 12:14 PM
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
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