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Your Rights as a Grandparent

By: Elizabeth Mugan BA/BSc, PGDipLaw, BVC, CIArb - Updated: 25 Apr 2022 |
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.


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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I have overnight access to my grandson, who has severe Epilepsy. His mother will not tell me the name and dosage of the medication I have to give him morning and night. She measures it out and sends it. But I don't know his home address, GP, Consultant or medication in the event of emergency. I also have none spare in event of spillage or vomiting. I feel that this is a dangerous situation for.both my grandson and me. I live in very rural Scotland
Alison - 25-Apr-22 @ 3:22 PM
Hi I heave 2 granddaughters not only I can’t see but my daughters whole family. 3 years ago we went to the add of my daughter and her daughter only had 1 then. We rescued her from abusive situation. My daughter has bio polar due to her illness being unstable she returned. She since had another daughter. We have recently found out we are not talked about in fact last thing my son in law said to me was die .my daughter is dreadful unhappy not having us all in her girls lives including all the cousins . My son in law totally control freak . What can we do please ?
Rufus - 21-Aug-20 @ 10:38 PM
My relationship broke down with my daughter when my granddaughter was just a few months old myself and her other grandmother was suppose to share having her when my daughter went back to work,but out the blue I was told that the 3 of them had ,had a meeting and it was decided that myself was to busy at work to have my granddaughter, my daughter told me and I wasn’t very happy and told her so since then 2yrs ago I’ve hardly seen my granddaughter and my daughter refuses to answer my txt , it’s so upsetting and I wish there was something I could do
Denis - 16-Aug-20 @ 6:04 AM
I’ve had a break down in relationship with my daughter over the last 2 years becouse of her husband gambling addictionI’ve not been allowed to see my grand children for 2 yearsa boy 12and a girl aged 9 In febthis year on my grandchildren’s request I was allowed to see them once a week n,so much love and affection as been shown by both childrenover the past few months. But the started to aSo for presents which within reasonI gave This has become regularthe last being a 1. 250bike which is way beyond my meansI adore my grand children Today I was contacted by my granddaughterto be verbally abused by her motherbecome she felt like it
None of them - 7-Jul-20 @ 1:58 PM
I’ve had a break down in relationship with my daughter over the last 2 years becouse of her husband gambling addictionI’ve not been allowed to see my grand children for 2 yearsa boy 12and a girl aged 9 In febthis year on my grandchildren’s request I was allowed to see them once a week n,so much love and affection as been shown by both childrenover the past few months. But the started to aSo for presents which within reasonI gave This has become regularthe last being a 1. 250bike which is way beyond my meansI adore my grand children Today I was contacted by my granddaughterto be verbally abused by her motherbecome she felt like itshe’s even got my grand children to block me How hurtfulshe’s got me heart brokenand imagine My grandchildren arealso.All becouse of her husbands Gambling
None of them - 27-Jun-20 @ 8:31 PM
Hi, my daughter stopped us seeing our grandchildren 9 months ago. She has had mental health issues for the past 5yrs and has had lapses and been hospitalised a couple of time. We where always there and supported her by taking care of the children. She has now stopped access because we could not look after the kids because of work commitments. I tbink that the children will have been very upset over the loss of contact as are we. Do you think we should apply to the courts for contact and is this possible.
Tra - 13-Apr-20 @ 1:35 PM
Advice please my daughter is living with a complete idiot. He has in the 2 years they have been together had her flat raided and drugs found,continues to smoke.canibis in the home to the point my grandson who is not his stinks of the stuff and my daughter doesn't see it as being an issue even when he play fights with him leaves bruises. Can any one offer any help or advice as to how I can deal.with thisthanks
Lis - 20-Feb-20 @ 6:27 PM
My daughter and her partner split up nearly a year ago he was abusive to her breaking her arm etc in front of child. His parents have only seen child 3 times since she was born 2 and a half years ago now they want contact .the child is my granddaughter and living with us as social services put a section 20 in place . Do you think they will allow grandparents to see her very worried as she’s already a mixed up little girl . Thank you
Wilson44 - 17-Feb-20 @ 3:10 PM
I have had my grandson living with me all his life on and off he has lived fully with me now for 2yrs fully I home educate him his mum and my son split up around 3yrs ago my grandson only knows us as his family he was 3 months old when we took him and his mum into our family my son had 2 daughters to her also I have a special bond with my grandson as due to circumstances hes been with me for all his life on and off I had 3 boys so it was easy for me to take him on just like having my own boys but it's been fine but mum has a new boyfriend and is now taking more of a stand about having him I'm arranging his life as remember he lives with me ie his education and social interactions then his mum rings on a whim and we have to change our plans and she has been with her boyfriend for only 2 months and my grandson when he sees his mum is forced to interact not with mum but her new boyfriend it's to soon for my grandson who thinks if he doesn't do as expected of him his mum will punish him by making him move back home he still sees my son regularly he has a brilliant relationship with my son my grandson knows nobody else as dad he is called by my sons second name not yet legally but to education school drs etc as when he was born he was named after his fathers last name but his blood father has never been interested in him at all ever even though mum did give him the chance he was not interested he made no attempt at all to see my grandson hes only ever called my son dad he has no idea hes always known me as nan and he would not handle it if his mother tried to change his routine life around as my grandsonis not like other kids hes being tested for autism I'm so scared I dont sleep with worry also my grandson has told our dr his worries about the situation and the boyfriend smoking weed where he was and the dr has a duty of care to report it so I'm so scared his mum will take him back and punish him for opening his mouth as she tells kids to lie to me and dad and they ommitthings until like I said he opened up to dr he went home for a weekend he was jumping of the walls when he came home what do I do pease help
Help - 21-Nov-19 @ 2:40 AM
Hi I am a nanny to my beautifull 2 year old grandaughter. My son and her mummy have recently seperated. There areconstant mental battles and mind games being played by mummy everytime i want to have my grandaughter. I used to have her for the day every tuesday whilst mummy went back to workbut during school holidays things would always get planned so I didnt have her or if I wanted to see her I had to spend the day with mummy and siblings. I never have her alone now Ifeel mummy would prefer if I didnt see her.If I do have her She controls everything from what she wears eats where we are going who we are going to see.I am not aloud to buy my grandaughter any little treats. I dont know what to do or which way to turn I have not taken sides and try to support both partys the same. Any advice would be great.
Boo - 16-Nov-19 @ 2:50 PM
Looking for advice we have a crazy mother in our family demanding to see our children mr and my husband are still together we both decided because of the arguments she causes and how she doesn’t treat all our children all the same that we wouldn’t like her to see them she’s now threatening to take us to court over seeing them do you know if she has any chance of getting this?
Sue - 3-Nov-19 @ 10:50 PM
Hi, my son and his wife split up before their daughter was a year old. The little girl is now three and a half. My son and I have sustained regular contact with his little girl but it has always been with my son’s ex wife there. It makes it nigh on impossible for us to really build a bond with her because my granddaughter constantly runs to her mum and her mum constantly interferes with our time together; even to the point that she tells us how to play and what to say or not say. I’ve asked for time with my granddaughter alone and I’ve been told the same as my son, that I can only see her with the mother there or, I can see my granddaughter in a public soft play area if it’s wet or a park if it’s dry but she will drop her off and pick her up. Sometimes she will even sit in the car park for the maximum of two hours that we can have her. My son’s ex refuses for either of us to pick her our granddaughter and take her anywhere. We are dictated where and when and under what circumstances we can have contact. My own mother, brothers and sisters and nieces and nephews have never met my granddaughter because of her mother’s controlling nature and when it was Father’s Day, my son was refused to allow him to take his daughter to see his own dad.I recently asked my granddaughter’s Mother why after three and a half years of doing it her way, we can’t be trusted to take my granddaughter out for the day or to visit our family and she refuses to explain. She just tells us that she will drop her off in a public place where it’s safe! To me, she is making assumptions that my son or I am not to be trusted to protect her. I am a teacher and have at one point a designated Safeguarding person in the school that I worked so I find it preposterous that she is making these suggestions. The mother has issues with my son because of some of their aggressive verbal arguments in the past but he has never been anything but loving and caring to his daughter. She is manipulative and seeks to use their volatile marriage as excuses to put barriers in the way.When I asked to see my granddaughter in isolation of my son, I was still told that I could only have my granddaughter under her limited conditions. I have good reason to believe that my ex daughter in law is incredibly insecure and completely reliant and dependent on my granddaughter’s company and this is why she refuses to trust anyone to have proper access separate from her control. She cannot see that her behaviour is selfish and unfair on so many levels and she is not only depriving my son, myself and my family of sharing time with her, but she’s depriving her own daughter of endless opportunities and happy occasions with her family, but more importantly, she is depriving her of a wealth of love that’s always readily available to her.I’d like to go to court and gain rights to have my granddaughter without her mother dictating where we spend our time so that we can actually enjoy each others’ company in a variety of
SP Annie - 15-Aug-19 @ 4:00 AM
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
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