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Paternal Grandparents' Rights

By: Chris Nickson - Updated: 11 Aug 2018 | 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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[Add a Comment]
Niko - Your Question:
I had my youngest 2 children when I was 18 and 19. I split up from their Dad when I was 22. I had nothing but built up my life getting a good job then met my now husband. We built a life together taking the children on holiday and including them in everything we did. His family included them as their own. However in the back ground my ex and his family were always there making things difficult but my husband always put them to one side and carried on. We then had a son of our own. My first two adore him but with a baby comes change and my daughter found it hard and moved in with her Dad. This devastated me. But we worked through it. Then I found out she had moved in with her Dad's mum because he was never there and things had gone bad. No one ever told me it was my daughter that eventually told me things. Now my Son who has been fine has started playing up so I tried to ground him and take his computer controllers away. He went to his Dad's Mum's and has not come back. She said it is so bad in my house why would he? His Auntie and Uncle also brought him to my home when I was out and a window was open so assisted in him getting in and taking all his belongings. Clothes, computer, monitor and bike. What can I do?

Our Response:
Only the father of your children (if he has parental responsibility) has the right to keep yours/his children without consent, please see the link here. If the children's grandparents are keeping the children without your consent, then as stated in the article police should be able to intervene.
SeparatedDads - 13-Aug-18 @ 1:41 PM
I had my youngest 2 children when I was 18 and 19. I split up from their Dad when I was 22. I had nothing but built up my life getting a good job then met my now husband. We built a life together taking the children on holiday and including them in everything we did. His family included them as their own. However in the back ground my ex and his family were always there making things difficult but my husband always put them to one side and carried on. We then had a son of our own. My first two adore him but with a baby comes change and my daughter found it hard and moved in with her Dad. This devastated me. But we worked through it. Then I found out she had moved in with her Dad's mum because he was never there and things had gone bad. No one ever told me it was my daughter that eventually told me things. Now my Son who has been fine has started playing up so I tried to ground him and take his computer controllers away. He went to his Dad's Mum's and has not come back. She said it is so bad in my house why would he? His Auntie and Uncle also brought him to my home when I was out and a window was open so assisted in him getting in and taking all his belongings. Clothes, computer, monitor and bike. What can I do?
Niko - 11-Aug-18 @ 5:26 AM
Abr1893 - Your Question:
Hi. Abit of backstory. I'm currently pregnant by my abusive ex. Ever since finding out I have been told I must get an abortion, I'll be on my own if I keep it etc, my question however is regarding contact. When I told my partner he shoved me to the floor and told me id done it to trap him. I ended up in the hospital for 3 days. He's had charges filed but I dropped them. I want to know what legal right his family have to my child. They called me names. Blamed me for the abuse and deny his drug And alcohol problems. I don't want them to poison my baby like they did to my ex. I'm terrified by that happening. Do I have to allow access even supervised? Thanks

Our Response:
If your ex is the father of your child and you refuse to register him on the birth certificate and/or deny access and refuse to attend mediation then he would have the option to apply to court. As in all cases, the court’s main concern is the welfare of the child in question. 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, please see the link here .
SeparatedDads - 10-Aug-18 @ 1:34 PM
Hi. Abit of backstory. I'm currently pregnant by my abusive ex. Ever since finding out I have been told I must get an abortion, I'll be on my own if I keep it etc, my question however is regarding contact. When I told my partner he shoved me to the floor and told me id done it to trap him. I ended up in the hospital for 3 days. He's had charges filed but I dropped them. I want to know what legal right his family have to my child. They called me names. Blamed me for the abuse and deny his drug And alcohol problems. I don't want them to poison my baby like they did to my ex. I'm terrified by that happening. Do I have to allow access even supervised? Thanks
Abr1893 - 7-Aug-18 @ 4:30 PM
Can I deny my partners parents Fromm having our child overnight? As I feel seeing her once a week isn’t enough plus they’ve not had her during the day before. Also the 3 people who live in the house she only ever sees one of them. Can I also be taken to court if they have spoke to me very rudely and threatened to tell my daughter when she’s older that I’ve stopped them from seeing her when I’ve gave them every opputunity too and have messages to prove yet. Yet they are even uploading photos of her on social media that I can’t see and are continuing to do so.
Na - 29-Jul-18 @ 5:39 PM
Hi im looking for some advice my partners mam started giving us abuse after abuse to her son and then started with me so i stopped her seeing my children after a while of it and now she hasnt even asked about them or seen them in over 2 months and now shes threathing me with court? Whats the chances she will get access?
Mummy24 - 17-Jul-18 @ 3:58 PM
Can I get a no contact order against my daughter's paternal grandmother of she is causing hostile tendencies in my child and has her a round men who do drugs?
Beth - 29-Jun-18 @ 5:29 PM
Cheese - Your Question:
Hi there, I do not wish for my mother to have any part in my sons life. This is a viewpoint shared by my partner, father, sister and my partners family. There are many reasons to this including the fact she's never made effort to be in his life, trouble she has caused me and my partner and malicious lies she has made.My son is 19 months old and she has not been involved at all in his life. I came home to find a letter that she had filed for mediation. I greed to mediation and will state all mentioned above. What are her chances of getting this to court? Really worried about financesThank you

Our Response:
If you refuse to attend mediation, or don't come to an agreement via mediation then the court 'may' allow your mother to apply to court. However, if she has not been part of your son's life to date, there is no saying the court will allow her request. As a rule, the court opt for consistency and if your mother had had played a large part in your child's life then it is understandable that a court may wish to allow the relationship between grandparent and grandchild to continue. However, as your son is very young and your mother has not seen your child, then as the parent the court may allow you to make a decision to suit you and your child. If you cannot represent yourself in court, you can self-litigate, please see link here. As in all cases, the court’s main concern is the welfare of the child in question. 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.
SeparatedDads - 22-Jun-18 @ 12:14 PM
Hi there, I do not wish for my mother to have any part in my sons life. This is a viewpoint shared by my partner, father, sister and my partners family. There are many reasons to this including the fact she's never made effort to be in his life, trouble she has caused me and my partner and malicious lies she has made. My son is 19 months old and she has not been involved at all in his life. I came home to find a letter that she had filed for mediation. I greed to mediation and will state all mentioned above. What are her chances of getting this to court? Really worried about finances Thank you
Cheese - 21-Jun-18 @ 9:29 PM
Can my ex partners mother take me to court to gain access for her and her son. I have had a history of violnece with him and he has issues with drugs and he did go to jail. Since then he seemed to straighten himself out so I gave him access again then I found out he had driven with my daughter in the car under the influence of drugs and he has continued to send nasty messages and threatening messages. His mother has only been in my daughter's life stable for a few months over a year ago but gas previously walked out and chose to not see her for 2 years then again 8 months this year. I've always shielded my daughter from the truth but I'm frightened of he gains access what will happen
Danielle - 12-Jun-18 @ 9:34 PM
Hi I’m looking for some advice ... I have never had a good relationship with my parents I have 2 kids3/4and they see my parents when they can be bothered... my sister got married and we was told I wasn’t aloud and there were no kids going we later found out there were a lot of kids there so it was just my children that was singled out.. I put a stop to my parents seeing the kids but my partner persuaded me to give them another chance and let them see the kids again .. I agreed with the conditions my sister doesn’t go near them ... long story short my mum has been letting my sister see the kids and getting the kids to lie to me and their mum ... after telling her again she would not be aloud to see them she has rung the police on me and lied and now I have to go to a children’s centre and prove I’m a good dad... what steps can I take to make my parents stay away from us legally because they won’t leave me and my family alone ... thanks
D - 8-Jun-18 @ 7:54 PM
I told my daughter in law in convasation that I had found a syringe down the side of my sofa and that it was possible that it had fallen out of my estranged husbands pocket, he is a body builder as is my son who is married to her whom she is currently devoirce him for adultry . Because of what I said she has asked her solicitor to state on her devoirce that there grandma my husband can have no contact with them and if he does she will stop my son having contact. There was no srying ever I made it up during this conversation about body building because I was very bitter and hurt by my ex husband would have never dreamed that this small lie could devastate our lives like this . There was only myself and my daughter in law present during this conversation and I have since tried to talk to her and told her I was lying but she won't listen . Please help I am going with my son to see solicitor to tell him I was lying .
Chippy - 28-May-18 @ 7:36 PM
Nm - Your Question:
Hi I have recently been divorced by a horrible man. Hes never physically done anything to me but he disturbed me emotionally and mentally and my baby who is 2 years old has always been present. even though he loves his dad I do feel its better if he doesnt see him due to my ex husbands nature I dont want my son to ever get affected or influenced by him. Another issue is that my ex has moved in with his parents. They are also very horrible negative people. There contact with my son was very minimal as it is and im afraid if my son does see his dad he would take him there. I am very worried about my sons welfare so I wanted to know do I have rights to stop him seeing his dad and grandparents.

Our Response:
You can stop your ex seeing his child and your child not seeing his parents. However, your ex will be allowed to apply to court to challenge your decision if you do not agree to mediation. Please see link here. Once this happens the decision will be taken out of your hands and the court will decide what it judges is in your child's best interests. Once an order is put into place by the court, you would have to keep to it. Therefore, trying to resolve any issues you have outside court is the best option.
SeparatedDads - 27-Apr-18 @ 3:00 PM
Hi i have recently been divorced by a horrible man. Hes never physically done anything to me but he disturbed me emotionally and mentally and my baby who is 2 years old has always been present.. even though he loves his dad i do feel its better if he doesnt see him due to my ex husbands nature i dont want my son to ever get affected or influenced by him. Another issue is that my ex has moved in with his parents. They are also very horrible negative people. There contact with my son was very minimal as it is and im afraid if my son does see his dad he would take him there. I am very worried about my sons welfare so i wanted to know do i have rights to stop him seeing his dad and grandparents.
Nm - 26-Apr-18 @ 11:00 PM
Sugersuger - Your Question:
Could my sons ex girlfriend take our grandchild out of the country without my sons consent. Is name is on the burth certificate

Our Response:
An individual must get the permission of everyone with parental responsibility for a child or from a court before taking the child abroad, please see link here.
SeparatedDads - 5-Apr-18 @ 12:44 PM
Could my sons ex girlfriend take our grandchild out of the country without my sons consent. Is name is on the burth certificate
Sugersuger - 3-Apr-18 @ 9:13 PM
Ellie - Your Question:
My son's girlfriend ditched my son once she was pregnant. She has not named him on birth certificate. He has other Children by another partner. I as a grandmother want access to the baby so it can keep contact with half brothers. Do I have any rights as a grandparent.

Our Response:
You do not have any rights as a grandparent. However, your son can either suggest mediation and/or apply for access to his child through the courts. As mentioned in the article, if you want to request access yourself, you can try approaching her directly and negotiating access, or through mediation, but there’s no guarantee it would work.
SeparatedDads - 20-Mar-18 @ 10:13 AM
My son's girlfriend ditched my son once she was pregnant. She has not named him on birth certificate. He has other Children by another partner. I as a grandmother want access to the baby so it can keep contact with half brothers. Do I have any rights as a grandparent.
Ellie - 19-Mar-18 @ 5:46 PM
Boo. Boo - Your Question:
Hi please advise me I have had my granddaughter since she was 6 months old she is now 10 her parents have contact but she has been with me and her grandad for 10 years and does not what to be with her parents I don’t get any money for her we just adore her she is our life can you tell me how I can get potential rights to her.

Our Response:
You would have apply for a residency order through the courts.
SeparatedDads - 5-Feb-18 @ 3:23 PM
Hi please advise me I have had my granddaughter since she was 6 months old she is now 10 her parents have contact but she has been with me and her grandad for 10 years and does not what to be with her parents I don’t get any money for her we just adore her she is our life can you tell me how I can get potential rights to her.
Boo. Boo - 2-Feb-18 @ 1:54 PM
JD - Your Question:
Hi,I am coming to my final hearing at the end of the month and wanted some advice, my x partner is planing on living with my mother and father in law with our children, the mother in law is extremley volatile and consumes alot of alchohol, as a dad would I be able to stop my x partner residing with my mother in law with the children and what would the judges view be on this.

Our Response:
If you cannot agree via mediation where your children should live, then you would have to apply through court for a Spacific Issue Order, please see link here . As in all cases, the court’s main concern is the welfare of the children in question. The court will always put the children’s best interests first and this main issue will determine the outcome of any application for an order.
SeparatedDads - 5-Jan-18 @ 3:18 PM
Hi, I am coming to my final hearing at the end of the month and wanted some advice, my x partner is planing on living with my mother and father in law with our children, the mother in law is extremley volatile and consumes alot of alchohol, as a dad would i be able to stop my x partner residing with my mother in law with the children and what would the judges view be on this.
JD - 1-Jan-18 @ 5:56 PM
GP - Your Question:
What if parents have split up , one parent doesn’t want grandparents involved but the other does ?

Our Response:
There is no law to define this. Any issues raised would have to be either sorted between both parents or via mediation.
SeparatedDads - 21-Dec-17 @ 12:07 PM
What if parents have split up , one parent doesn’t want grandparents involved but the other does ?
GP - 20-Dec-17 @ 3:22 PM
Phyl - Your Question:
I tried to see my grandchildren when they left school but wasn't allowed by the mothers new man. The mother got the police to come to my house and tell me I wasn't allowed at the school or their home. What happens now if I try and see them away from those places?

Our Response:
If you attempt to see the children without the parent's consent, then your grandchildren's mother could get a restraining order against you (if you have already had a complaint made about you). If you have been consistent in your granchildren's lives to date, then you may have a case to take the matter to court for access. However, you may have to seek legal advice in order to explore your options.
SeparatedDads - 14-Dec-17 @ 12:38 PM
I tried to see my grandchildren when they left school but wasn't allowed by the mothers new man. The mother got the police to come to my house and tell me I wasn't allowed at the school or their home. What happens now if I try and see them away from those places?
Phyl - 13-Dec-17 @ 1:36 PM
Hi my son and girlfriend have split up he taken this hard and turned to taking all he's at depresent and jumped out of there flat window. The ex has now told us social severives have stop him seeing him and the rear of he's family me dad and brother we not been told this any advise please its breaking our hearts
Kerry - 21-Nov-17 @ 7:45 AM
RS14 - Your Question:
I'd like some advice please, my daughter sadly passed away and has left 3 children under the age of 10 in the care of their biological father. His parents look after the children and we don't have any form of regular contact. Not only have we lost our daughter but it feels like we've lost our grandchildren too. Our son in law is unreasonable and unapproachable and therefore I would like to know what I would need to do to gain regular access to see our grandchildren. Mediation is not an option as their dad wants nothing to do with us. Please advise.

Our Response:
I am very sorry to hear this. If you previously had a good relationship with your grandchildren, then you may be able to apply to take the matter to court. You would need to seek legal advice. Once after the initial legal advice, if you cannot afford the hefty legal fees of having a solicitor to represent you in court, you can represent yourself.
SeparatedDads - 7-Nov-17 @ 3:42 PM
I'd like some advice please, my daughter sadly passed away and has left 3 children under the age of 10 in the care of their biological father. His parents look after the children and we don't have any form of regular contact. Not only have we lost our daughter but it feels like we've lost our grandchildren too. Our son in law is unreasonable and unapproachable and therefore I would like to know what I would need to do to gain regular access to see our grandchildren. Mediation is not an option as their dad wants nothing to do with us. Please advise.
RS14 - 3-Nov-17 @ 10:01 PM
My daughter won’t let us see our granddaughters, no contact since July even though we used to have them every weekend for a sleepover! She has even deleted us from her phone She says I’m unstable because I once said I feel like taking a over dose after she had yet again reduced me to tears & I wasn’t feeling well I don’t think she would turn up for mediation so what can I do?
Pam - 26-Oct-17 @ 7:49 PM
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