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Paternal Grandparents' Rights

By: Chris Nickson - Updated: 23 Sep 2017 | comments*Discuss
 
Parents Grandparents Paternal

Grandparents are a huge asset to any family. Not only do they have a lot of love to give to their grandchildren, but these days they’re often called on as carers while the parents are at work. They play a vital role in the family.

More than that, when they’re carers (and even when they’re not) they develop very close bonds with their grandchildren, who sometimes spend more time with them than with their own parents. Estimates are that around 60% of all childcare in the UK is provided by grandparents, a truly staggering figure.

But When A Couple Divorce, what rights do the paternal grandparents have to see their grandchildren?

The Law

The sad but true fact is that only people with Parental Rights – which usually just means the mother and father named on the child’s birth certificate – have automatic access to the child. However, that doesn’t indicate that all legal doors are closed to grandparents. Where children are over the age of 10, their views are also taken into account when deciding access, although this is tempered with statements from the parents.

For those children below that age, the court tries to assess what’s in the best interests of the child when it comes to access. So it’s possible that paternal grandparents could have access (all this assumes the children reside with their mother). Realistically, though, it’s rare for paternal grandparents to be given access.

In Scotland, there have been more moves towards grandparent access, a recognition of the role grandparents take in the raising of a child.

What Can You Do?

In truth, grandparents don’t have a legal leg to stand on. If your former daughter-in-law wants to deny you access to your own grandchildren, she can, and perfectly legally. You can try approaching her directly and negotiating access, or through Mediation, but there’s no guarantee it would work.

There is also the alternative of taking the matter to Family Court. Be warned, though, that it can be expensive, and in the vast majority of cases, you’ll find it to be unsuccessful. Additionally, there are a number of obstacles to be overcome first.

Quite ridiculously, the grandparents first have to apply to court for permission to even apply for a contact order. If it sounds convoluted, that’s because it is. But even if permission is granted, and the matter does go to court, the grandparents still have to prove that prior to the split they had an important, meaningful relationship with their grandchildren, and that it’s in the interests of the children that it continues. In other words, the onus is on the grandparents to prove their case, since there’s no presumed contact between grandparents and grandchildren. Additionally, parents can object, raising yet another hurdle.

Even in the few cases that grandparents win, that’s still no guarantee of success. The mother can simply ignore the order for access from the court, leaving the grandparents with another lengthy and expensive legal action to have it enforced.

It’s heartbreaking, not just for the grandparents, but also the children, who may well have depended on them for so long and built their lives about them. Even in the best break-up, everyone suffers. When there’s rancour and bitterness involved, that’s doubled, and the ones who suffer most are the most powerless legally.

Check out the Separated Dads Forum... It's a great resource where you can ask for advice on topics including Child Access, Maintenance, CAFCASS, Fathers Rights, Court, Behaviour or simply to have a chat with other dads.

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@Jan361. I'm in the same boat I'm terrified my son been there with them both, he just got a court order that my ex has him at his mums 4 days fortnightly, my son hates his grandmother, my son is 11 and said to him and put a boundary in place that if he has daniel and he is going out and he can't go with him that he is not left with his grandmother and wants to be returned home to me. Ronnie
Ronnie - 23-Sep-17 @ 4:14 PM
Vic - Your Question:
After a long 6 motnhs I am finally attending court tomorrow for the custody of the child. Unfortunately, I will be representing myself. I do not have a legal background and I will be facing the court and her lawyers being English not my firts language. Tomorrow is supose to be about trying to reach a deal however I cannot see this happening. Not to mention the outrageous report from cafscass that has not undrstand anything in my case and I am being questioned for eveything and anything even against medical advise in my favour has somehow overturn against me.This is painful, very painful.Can anyone advise for tomorrow's hearing? I am currently enjoy access to the family home (I am a co-owner) after undertakings. Tuesdays and Thursdays while the mother ha to move out. Now the mother seeks for this to stop. Cafcass recommends evry other weekend and wednesdays overnight stays, as long as a secure a property for me and the child (currently living in a shared house where I cannot bring the child). Unfortunately and due to the expenses in lawyers, it is not feasable for me to rent. Hence, doeas anyone knows what could happended? can the court stop tomorrow the current arangement before going to trial?Your quick reponse would be much appreciated. Sorry about the short notice, but I have been trying to access te forum for days and it just says the link does not works,Please helpThanks very much in advanceA desperate daddy whos child love him very much.Vic

Our Response:
I am sorry to hear this. However, the Cafcass recommendations are considered important and the court will almost invariably adhere to the recommendations Cafcass makes. Once in the week and every other weekend is considered a standard contact arrangement. We cannot anticipate what the court may decide regarding the current arrangement. As in all cases, the court’s main concern is the welfare of your child. The court will always put the child’s best interests first and this main issue will determine the outcome of any application for an order. Therefore, please keep in mind it is about your child and what is best for him this is what the court will be mostly concerned with, not any previous arguments between yourself and your ex. If you are representing yourself,litigants in person MUST be treated equally before the law and have equal access to justice. Judges have a duty to ensure you have a fair trial by giving you due assistance to achieve this despite your language barrier etc. Unfortunately, our forum is currently down. I will post an edited version of your question on our Separated Dads Facebook page, please access your answers via the link here . I wish you the best of luck.
SeparatedDads - 4-Sep-17 @ 4:02 PM
Rocket17 - Your Question:
Can I leave my kids with my dad and get in a plane and go work abroad. And allow grandad to take kids to mums without it been a crime they live with me but becoming to much as no help

Our Response:
As the parent with parental responsibility, you are deemed responsible for deciding what you think is in your children's best interests when making decisions regarding their welfare. However, if your children's mother disagrees with the arrangement, she can also keep the children without your consent (unless a court order in in place that specifies you as the resident parent). Any new arrangement, in theory is always best when mutually discussed and agreed to.
SeparatedDads - 4-Sep-17 @ 12:10 PM
After a long 6 motnhs I am finally attending court tomorrow for the custody of the child. Unfortunately, I will be representing myself. I do not have a legal background and I will be facing the court and her lawyers being English not my firts language. Tomorrow is supose to be about trying to reach a deal however I cannot see this happening. Not to mention the outrageous report from cafscass that has not undrstand anything in my case and I am being questioned for eveything and anything even against medical advise in my favour has somehow overturn against me. This is painful, very painful. Can anyone advise for tomorrow's hearing? I am currently enjoy access to the family home (I am a co-owner) after undertakings. Tuesdays and Thursdays while the mother ha to move out. Now the mother seeks for this to stop. Cafcass recommends evry other weekend and wednesdays overnight stays, as long as a secure a property for me and the child (currently living in a shared house where I cannot bring the child). Unfortunately and due to the expenses in lawyers, it is not feasable for me to rent. Hence, doeas anyone knows what could happended? can the court stop tomorrow the current arangement before going to trial? Your quick reponse would be much appreciated. Sorry about the short notice, but I have been trying to access te forum for days and it just says the link does not works, Please help Thanks very much in advance A desperate daddy whos child love him very much. Vic
Vic - 3-Sep-17 @ 8:38 PM
Can I leave my kids with my dad and get in a plane and go work abroad. And allow grandad to take kidsto mums without it been a crime they live with me but becoming to much as no help
Rocket17 - 3-Sep-17 @ 9:52 AM
Ross Ollie- Your Question:
Can my ex mother in law have permission to see my children if I am pressing charges on her for assault on myself in front of my 2 and half year old child?

Our Response:
Unfortunately, we cannot really answer this question as the court does not see it in such black-and-white terms. All will depend upon the circumstances surrounding the case and what the judge rules to be in your children's best interests.
SeparatedDads - 4-Aug-17 @ 12:43 PM
Can my ex mother in law have permission to see my children if I am pressing charges on her for assault on myself in front of my 2 and half year old child?
Ross Ollie - 4-Aug-17 @ 4:40 AM
@cara56 - you would just have to keep saying no. The problem is if you b/f changes his mind. If you register your b/f as the dad then he will have rights. But if his dad is what you say then I'm sure your b/f will feel the same.
Nadda - 10-Jul-17 @ 4:17 PM
Jan361 - Your Question:
I have received a letter from the paternal grandmothers lawyer asking for contact to my kids 8,7 and 5. She hasn't saw them in 6 years and kicked us out of her house. Hasn't met my youngest daughter at all with occasion visits with the older 2. Her son was abusive to me and has been charged with domestic violence. They both have NPD and I'm very worried about them being allowed access to my kids. What are her chances in court ?

Our Response:
I'm afraid we cannot predict what a court may decide. I imagine they haven't been diagnosed through the doctor with NPD and this is an assumption on your part? I can only suggest you seek legal advice as much depends upon the circumstances surrounding the case.
SeparatedDads - 10-Jul-17 @ 3:26 PM
I have received a letter from the paternal grandmothers lawyer asking for contact to my kids 8,7 and 5. She hasn't saw them in 6 years and kicked us out of her house. Hasn't met my youngest daughter at all with occasion visits with the older 2. Her son was abusive to me and has been charged with domestic violence. They both have NPD and I'm very worried about them being allowed access to my kids. What are her chances in court ?
Jan361 - 10-Jul-17 @ 2:34 AM
Hi, I'm looking for some advice and wondered whether anyone would be able to help me. My boyfriend and I are talking about trying to conceive at the moment, I desperatly want to have a baby with him however there is one thing that makes me feel sick. I want to ensure that my boyfriends dad would never never ever be able to have access to my child. He has a history of beating several women including my boyfriends mum, and is a manipulative and mentally unstable person in general. My boyfriend supports that our child won't see him but I also know that at the end of the day it's my boyfriends dad and he could ultimately change his mind at any minute about giving his dad access. This scares me so much that I genuinely don't want to have a baby if my boyfriends dad can get to it, he leaves me terrified but my boyfriend will never fully cut him off. If anyone has any experience in this matter at all that would be great
Cara56 - 7-Jul-17 @ 4:55 PM
@Cc - tricky if you have no name to go on. You could trace her name by ordering your ex's full birth certificate. Liz
EDM - 12-Jun-17 @ 12:47 PM
Please help. I had a little boy in 2009 and my partner left us. I have no contact as he changed his number and moved back to Scotland. He doesn't want anything to do with our son. I didn't meet his mum and I am not sure she even knows about him. I have been trying to trace her for years but I don't even know her name. I think she has a right to know about her grandson and my son needs to know about his paternal family. Any suggestions on how to find her for free
Cc - 10-Jun-17 @ 11:09 AM
We have an sgo in place for our granddaughter we are the paternal grandparents. My son was only 21 when his girlfriend got pregnant and said he wouldn't be able to cope bringing her up. His girlfriend and been in foster care, (so had her 2 siblings) from the age of 11 till she returned to her family home at the age of 16. This was due to her parents drug and alcohol abuse. Which they say they no longer do. Both sets of grandparents went through the twin tracking system the maternal grandparents fell at the first hurdle, but we were successful we then passed the foster panel. Then court we have had the sgo for 2 1/2 yrs but all the while having harassment from my granddaughters mother and other maternal family members. All of a sudden we have received a letter through the post from their solicitors saying they are going for contact through their grandparents rights. They have also been told they will win!!Will they get legal aid? As they are not working.And where do we stand in having to give them access. Their sonhas just had a baby and apparently they have been deemed OK by the social to have him! Although we were advised by our social worker that our grand daughter should have see any other family member other than her mum. We are at the point where contact with mum is stopping because it is not in our granddaughters wellbeing she see her anymore. We are at the end if out tether. .
Moggs - 9-May-17 @ 6:23 PM
@gramma's monkey if your step son is going through criminal courts it will depend on the outcome of that case. The mother will use it to her advantage if it all goes pair shape for him sadly that's what these women do. Caffcass is useless my grandson is now 18 months old and I've never met him although I've never been horrible send presents to him and the mother on birthdays etc. My heart breaks every day that passes. I pray that some how I get to meet him and he gets to know his family on his dads side we have gone through courts etc and now I'm having to go through as a grandparent for exactly the same reason as yourself. I just don't get why they take it out on the kids we have so much love to give him but are not allowed. I wish I had someone to help me get her to see sense she's only hurting her child in the long run. Good luck with the other case I pray it goes well for him.
Granny1 - 9-Apr-17 @ 11:45 PM
@Daner7 - Good on you for fighting the good fight. Thankfully at least court orders can be enforced. Diane.
DS - 6-Apr-17 @ 1:38 PM
I do know from experience, I've been thru a lot of this and if one of the parents is deceased or incarcerated the grandparents can seek custody or visitation of the kids and if the parents are divorced then the grandparents can seek visitation...doesn't mean they will definitely get it but a grandparent is gonna have to fight and divorced dads need to fight if the ex -wife is keeping the kids away for no reason...ex-wives become very bitter and hateful especially when they meet some one new...you got to fight for your kids and sometimes it's a battle but the outcome is definitely worth it...don't be afraid to fight for what you believe in...
Daner7 - 6-Apr-17 @ 12:38 AM
@Sausage...that's the kind of grandparent that makes it hard on the rest of us, I think I would just ignore her, it's wrong for her try to push her way around and demand this and demand that...let her yell all she wants..it's hard for a grandparent to get visitation and she is the kind that definitely would not get visitation...
Daner7 - 6-Apr-17 @ 12:30 AM
@Matt, I agree, ignore the court order if you don't feel safe at your parents home, your grandparents can to go to court and get an emergency order, they need to take it to court. Good luck to you...
Daner7 - 6-Apr-17 @ 12:20 AM
I'm a paternal grandparent that has raised the kids all of their lives, mother (she's a drug addict who trying to make the court believe that she is all better), steps back in and then says I can't see the kids, you wanna bet, I did win visitation but she still harrasses me,if after you win visitation and she still won't let you see the kids then get her for contempt of court, no matter how many times, you go to court and you fight for your grandchildren, my grandson didn't even know his mother and was thrown into a situation he wants out of, if the parents are doing ok then that's fine but more and more grandparents are having to raise the grandkids because of the parents drug addiction and it isn't fair to the child to cut them off from all that is familiar and all they have known. If my grandson was happy with his situation and doing good then that would be fine but I say to all of the grandparents out there - fight for your grandkids, they are depending on us to be there for them- to all of the parents out there that keep the grandparents away - shame on you, your just selfish and bitter and you are just using your kids to get what you want, you're creating a generation of kids that are lost and confused, I don't expect you to agree with me but that's the sad truth.
Daner7 - 6-Apr-17 @ 12:12 AM
Thank you so much for your kind reply Linds it really is appreciated. i just hate the thought that my kids may have to go to court or mediation or whatever the process is to even give their thoughts, it's such a horrible situation of her to put them in. I was thinking of seeking legal advice of some sort but maybe I don't need to if she can't legally force the kids to see her. Thank you again for your kind words. (0:
Spin - 13-Mar-17 @ 1:31 PM
@Spin- you are under no obligation to allow this woman to see your kids. If she wants to take you to court let her. If your kids are teenagers they will be allowed their say regarding whether they wish to see her or not. I'd ignore her - tell her it's up to your kids and not you any more. If people like this think they have got a hold on you - then they will make your life a misery. I think I'd just let her do her worst and try to ignore it <3
Linds - 13-Mar-17 @ 11:50 AM
I could really do with some advice please. My relationship with my mother has never been good. She was never there for me as a child leaving me to look after my 5yr old sister alone all night from the age of 12. Bringing a violent man into the home. Pretending she had serious illness (which she did not). Putting her debts in my name so I had bailiffs threatening to remove things from my home etc etc I could go on all day. The result is that I myself recently became ill & can no longer cope with her behavior & the demands she puts on me & her constant lying. I am no longer in contact with her. I have allowed her to see my 3 kids however but this is becoming very hard. If I cannot meet her request to have them because of other commitments two of my kids are teenagers & have social lives of their own. She sends me horrible emails threatening to take me to court. She is demanding more & more visits that i comply with as I'm terrified of what she will do, my kids don't really want to see her as much as she demands. She has a past history of taking an ex boyfriend to court & she goes around contacting their friends & family & work colleagues saying awful things so I'm living in fear of what she'll do to me. Please can you advise what I can do if anything to stop all this, it's making me very ill. Thank you
Spin - 12-Mar-17 @ 11:54 AM
@Matt - ignore the court order if you feel you are under threat living at your parents. Your grandparents may be able to take the matter to court to have the order overturned. James.
JI89 - 27-Feb-17 @ 2:54 PM
Sausage - Your Question:
Hi me and my mother do not get on nowadays but I have kept letting her see my 9 year old daughter as she has always been in her life. I have recently had my second baby daughter with my new partner who my mother hates, so she has chosen to not acknowledge or welcome into this world. I fear this is going to cause trouble for my two daughters relationship as they grow up.what shall I do?

Our Response:
I think in this case you should take each day as it comes and use your judgement as the situation develops. Your baby is very young, so this will not affect either of the children just yet. When the time comes that you think you have to make some decisions, mediation might be a way forward if the matter remains unresolved.
SeparatedDads - 27-Feb-17 @ 12:51 PM
Hi me and my mother do not get on nowadays but i have kept letting her see my 9 year old daughter as she has always been in her life. I have recently had my second baby daughter with my new partner who my mother hates, so she has chosen to not acknowledge or welcome into this world. I fear this is going to cause trouble for my two daughters relationship as they grow up......what shall i do?
Sausage - 26-Feb-17 @ 7:06 PM
I am having issues with my MIL I have never stopped her seeing my daughter (now 11months old) however from my daughter being 2 weeks old she keeps on causing massive arguments everytime she wants her and I say no .. long story short my daughter is 11 months old and in total they have not seen her for at least 6 months of her life due to deciding not to contact or come see her due to them not liking me for saying no and them not getting there own way. I am still not to this day saying they cannot see her just that it is on mine and my partners terms however they are not interested in seeing her unless i'm not there or they have it there way. She is threatening with solicitors yet I have never stopped her seeing my daughter she just decides to stay away for months on end when she gets told NO .. She did'nt even see my daughter Christmas day as we where having our first Christmas together at home and all the family came to us yet she wanted us to go to her and because we didn't my daughter did'nt get her presents and she has not seen her for 2 months .. She is now back in touch threatening with solicitors AGAIN .. Advice please and legally does she have any argument as I have'nt stopped her seeing my daughter its her that decides to cut contact and stay away for months and my daughter does'nt even know her.
Claire - 25-Feb-17 @ 8:43 AM
HI MY NAME IS MATT AND BASICALLY IVE BEEN LIVING WITH MY GRANDPARENTS FOR NEARLY 2 MONTHS BECAUSE MY PARENTS WOULD GO OUT AND DRINK LEAVING ME AND MY SISTER TO LOOK AFTER MY BABY BROTHER BUT ONCE MY PARENTS WOULD COME BACK THEY WOULD BE TOTALLY DRUNK AND ABUSIVE TOWARDS ME AND MY SISTER AND ABUSE US SO I TOLD SOCIAL SERVICES AND THEY SAID IM OLD ENOUGH TO STAY AT MY GRANDPARENTS HOUSE BECAUSE IM OLD ENOUGH TO SAY WHOM IM SAFE WITH AND WHERE I WANT TO STAY. BUT MY DAD GOT A COURTCASE WHICH SAYS I MUST GO BACK TO MY PARENTS HOUSE BUT SOCIAL SERVICES SAID NO ONE CAN FORCE YOU NOT EVEN THE POLICE. BUT WHAT SHOULD I DO ABOUT THE COURT ORDER?
Matt - 25-Feb-17 @ 1:14 AM
LouLou - Your Question:
Thank you for your response, but I didn't have a problem with my ex seeing my son as he is is his father, just my in laws at the moment he sees them when they can be bothered and I'm always there to stop them smoking around him and kept him safe ish. LouLou - Your Question:After weighing up all the pros and cons I am considering splitting from my husband as I no longer feel we have a marriage. My in laws and the way they treat me and my son is part of the issue. I would ideally like to stop them from seeing my son as they put him down, compare him to their precious granddaughter, Over the last 2 years they have seen him for about an hour twice a month, put off seeing him as she has to hoover, shop, see their granddaughter etc. My son has some issues, has to have medication twice a day which they are always asking me what its for, they don't listen. He has some learning issues so doesn't need putting down etc. She smokes near him and never listens to me when I say move away. Basically, she never listens to me and I am 100% sure seeing them would not be in my sons best interests. My question is can I stop them from seeing him? if my husband moves out he will probably end up staying at his parents due to money, can I stop my son staying there with my husband? Can I stop my husband taking my son there whe he has him? ThanksOur Response:You can stop your ex and his parents from seeing your child. However, as he has parental responsibility he will be allowed to take the matter to court and it will be up to the court, not you to decide what it thinks is in your son's best interests. If you cannot give a valid/provable reason why your ex and his parents should not see your son, then it is likely access will be granted and if a court order is put in place you will have to adhere to it. Mediation is another route you could suggest if you and your husband cannot come to a mutual decision about the access of your son. Please see link here.SeparatedDads - 16-Jan-17 @ 2:34 PM

Our Response:
I assumed that if your ex sees your son, and lives under their roof then the grandparents would invariably also have contact and as your ex has PR, so he also has the right to have a say in who sees your son. Your only recourse would be either to discuss this with your ex, and if he refuses, then approach the matter either through mediation, or through the courts via a Specific Issue Order.
SeparatedDads - 20-Jan-17 @ 1:01 PM
Thank you for your response, but I didn't have a problem with my ex seeing my son as he is is his father, just my in laws at the moment he sees them when they can be bothered and i'm always there to stop them smoking around him and kept him safe ish. LouLou - Your Question: After weighing up all the pros and cons I am considering splitting from my husband as I no longer feel we have a marriage. My in laws and the way they treat me and my son is part of the issue. I would ideally like to stop them from seeing my son as they put him down, compare him to their precious granddaughter, Over the last 2 years they have seen him for about an hour twice a month, put off seeing him as she has to hoover, shop, see their granddaughter etc. My son has some issues, has to have medication twice a day which they are always asking me what its for, they don't listen. He has some learning issues so doesn't need putting down etc. She smokes near him and never listens to me when I say move away. Basically, she never listens to me and I am 100% sure seeing them would not be in my sons best interests. My question is can I stop them from seeing him? if my husband moves out he will probably end up staying at his parents due to money, can I stop my son staying there with my husband? Can I stop my husband taking my son there whe he has him? Thanks Our Response: You can stop your ex and his parents from seeing your child. However, as he has parental responsibility he will be allowed to take the matter to court and it will be up to the court, not you to decide what it thinks is in your son's best interests. If you cannot give a valid/provable reason why your ex and his parents should not see your son, then it is likely access will be granted and if a court order is put in place you will have to adhere to it. Mediation is another route you could suggest if you and your husband cannot come to a mutual decision about the access of your son. Please see link here. SeparatedDads - 16-Jan-17 @ 2:34 PM
LouLou - 19-Jan-17 @ 9:04 PM
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