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Your Rights as a Grandparent

By: Elizabeth Mugan BA/BSc, PGDipLaw, BVC, CIArb - Updated: 19 Jul 2019 |
 
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]
we have looked after my grand daughter for6year's. Loved her . My son has not much loved her at all Only his son from another relationship. he knows HOW much we love her and has just snatch her back from my Mum who was looking after her while I was working. Can I do anything to get her back
JS - 19-Jul-19 @ 12:05 AM
Hello. I am really sad. To cut a long story short I have been estranged from my eldest son after I left my ex husband nearly 10 years ago. At that time my son was 23. As part of my divorce I handed over my half of the marital Rhouse as I didn't want my two sons to miss out on their inheritance. Now they haven't spoken to me since and ignore all my letters etc blocked on social media etc. My eldest has since married and they had a daughter this February. I have tried everything to contact them. I would love to see her and be a part of her life.. how do I start this.i received a horrible text from him saying to never contact them.I really want to resolve things as I was a good mother and hope to be a good grandmother. I cry all the time and don't know what to do for the best. Kind regards.
June - 11-Jul-19 @ 1:35 PM
My mum has become a grandmotherApril last year,and my mums daughter in law has turned very nasty towards her and myself since the little girl was born.she won't let us spend any time with her,she doesn't let come to us to look after her,she's been saying a lot of lies saying nasty things about people,turned my brother against her etc.the little girl only know her other grandmother,she's there very often,looking after the little one.they have upset my mum so much.tried talking to her,asking her to sort things out,but refused 3 times.what can I do.
Halfpenney - 27-Jun-19 @ 6:28 PM
My daughter died 4 years ago and left behind my 3 year old granddaughter, she lived with my for the majority of her life and she is my only grandchild as my daughter was my only child , her ex partner has a new girlfriend now and she is spending less and less time with me , I’m only 48 and I’m the only connection she has to her mother , my granddaughter who is 7 now cries when she has to go to her dads and has told me she’s scared of him because he’s extremely strict and shouts at her all the time , she’s recently told me that she has wet her bed at her dads , she had expressed to me that she wants to live with me full time but her dad had threatened her that he’s the boss and he can stop her all together from seeing me , we are both at our wits ends, she’s walking on eggshells around him , please help
Benny - 10-Jun-19 @ 9:01 PM
I need advise as I have been stop seeing my grandson but my son has taken on her child from a previous relationship from the time she found out she was pregnant I was there for the birth of both the boys,
Laura - 29-Apr-19 @ 6:29 AM
Hi I was wondering if anyone could help me please? I am currently undergoing a court case. My daughters paternal grandmother who has had no involvement in my daughters life is trying to take me to court she has been granted the case to proceed as I couldn't turn up with my daughter being ill. She didn't look after her own children very well and has threatned and harassed me for 3 years now. She is nasty and very poisness, controlling and manipulative. Im really worried for the negative effect she is going to have on my child's life. I am due to go court very soon.. and have no idea what to expect. Will they still grant her rights? And would I be able to ignore court order if she were awarded, she is trying for custody? But my children come from a good home and are happy and we'll loved... please if anyone could give advise of some sort I would be highly greatful...
Stace - 24-Apr-19 @ 12:50 PM
I am a grandparent, the social service have started to take court proceedings to take the grandchildren away from my daughter, who has aspergers, her parner was killed 3 years ago. and they have considered her un-fit to look after them on her own, i have given up my job of 18 years and moved into a caravan to be near, and help her out. lots of agreements have to be met, and she is trying hard to meet them. We have bought a house in a different area. If I apply for a residential order, do you think I will get it, and would that stop the social service perusing my daughter??
Kay - 3-Apr-19 @ 1:05 PM
Me and my partner have a beautiful daughter together, his mum has taken us to court for visititation of our daughter and even after our strong upjections my partners mummy was granted with a contact order for 3 hours once a week. We and my partner over The last year have been talking about moving away over seas, could his mum stop us from moving away now there is a contact order in place
Dolly - 30-Mar-19 @ 1:27 PM
Hi. I work in retail and have worked for my current employer for over 5years. My son who does not live with me,came to stay with me for a few days with his young son but fell ill and I had to look after him and his son which meant I had no sleep myself and could not attend work the next day.Does this count as dependency?
Libby - 9-Feb-19 @ 9:26 AM
Hi my daughter has got very bad depression so she ask for help from the dad and now he wont let me see him my grandson I have been in his life from when he was born but the father hasn't so I need to see my grandson is very important to me the dad is saying socail service our saying I'm not aloud to see him but I dont think that is true how come I've been in my grandson life and he hasn't hows that fair I need to know if there anything I can do to see him
Sav - 27-Jan-19 @ 12:06 AM
My son has court ordered times, this has worked perfectly for the last 8 yrs.A majority of the time (5 days a week) my gc spends with me and loves it. My son has started a new relationship and now lives 2hrs away. The mum is now saying she wants to go back to court as I am having the time with my gc and her not her dad, but this has always been the case. We do not have the funds to go to court again but we do not know where we stand legally,could amyo e offer any advice?
whatshouldido - 10-Jan-19 @ 11:42 AM
Our grand children 5 under 7yrs old have been took in care put up for adoption parents are drug users done armed robbery on remand yet we was put to have all 5 children had assessment and the children social worker had already made it clear we wasn't getting them he aptly left his position we have now our 3rd worker who is no help as she won't let us see 5 grandchildren nor have any members of family met criteria but surely we have right to see those lovely grandchildren until adoption or foster . It's like no one cares what we feel even though the mother sent text stating she wants us involved with the babies it's not been adjourned to by child services why ?? It's killing us .
Bettyboop - 11-Dec-18 @ 7:48 PM
Hi My daughter walk out taking both her son's with her. She done this after meeting a male online. The male is from aboard he only been in UK for 2 months. Iv tryed to contact her by text she didn't reply. She turned her back on her family. And have change her phone number. Due to family concern over the welfare and safety for my grand children. Iv now been given a verbal warning from police to not contact my daughter and to stay away from my grand children school or I will be arrested iv only tryed to contact twice by text and twice by ringing. What I want to know is how do I go about taking my daughter to court for access to my grand children they've live with me since they were born. My daughter never left home. Iv raised my grand children mainly doing every thing a partner should do as my daughter would rather sit on the sofa playing games on her phone.
Tg - 27-Oct-18 @ 9:25 PM
Granddaughter's dad is very intermittent with phone calls and visits, has seen her 7 times in 14 months. Last called beginning of August. Should daughter be looking for legal advice now re contact. ie if he calls at Christmas demanding her to visit and stay when no contact before hand would you advise no not reasonable or fair for her (6yrs old) and that he needs to maintain regular contact as he did previously, prior to his new relationship.
Nannan - 28-Sep-18 @ 11:49 PM
Me and my oldest daughter have fell out..shes stop me from seeing my grandson..i seen him being born and always been part of his life..how do i go about trying to gt contact? Shes blocked my number so i cant arrange anything...
Caz - 27-Sep-18 @ 12:27 PM
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
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
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
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