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Paternal Grandparents' Rights

By: Chris Nickson - Updated: 19 Jan 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.

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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
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
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 stopthem 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
LouLou - 15-Jan-17 @ 9:59 PM
brewy - Your Question:
My son and daughter in law have split up 10mnths ago there is no going back for them so eventuLly they will ddivorce. I have looked after my 2 grandsons 3 times a week for 10years for the oldest and three years for youngest but last week she decided to stop me and my husband from having them, no reason given what can I do about this.

Our Response:
I'm afraid we can offer no further advice than that contained within the article, except to suggest you seek legal advice. What will go in your favour is the fact you have played an integral part in your granchildren's lives - but still much depends upon the lengths your former daughter-in-law will go to, to try and prevent you having access.
SeparatedDads - 3-Jan-17 @ 12:25 PM
My son and daughter in law have split up 10mnths ago there is no going back for them so eventuLly they will ddivorce. I have looked after my 2 grandsons 3 times a week for 10years for the oldest and three years for youngest but last week she decided to stop me and my husband from having them, no reason given what can I do about this...
brewy - 2-Jan-17 @ 5:32 PM
Michm - Your Question:
My daughters gran (daughters fathers mum) hasn't bothered with my daughter in 5 months. Am I right in saying no? After so many chances she ends up not bothering Again each time. And I don't want my Daughter having part time family. In 5 months no text or call to see how she is. No visits to see her. Can I stop her seeing her granddaughter?

Our Response:
You can make any decision you wish, if you feel it is in your daughter's best interests.
SeparatedDads - 12-Dec-16 @ 1:51 PM
My daughters gran (daughters fathers mum) hasn't bothered with my daughter in 5 months. Am i right in saying no? After so many chances she ends up not bothering Again each time. And i don't want my Daughter having part time family. In 5 months no text or call to see how she is. No visits to see her. Can i stop her seeing her granddaughter?
Michm - 11-Dec-16 @ 7:44 PM
Jim - Your Question:
My wife died several years ago and I have two children that live with me and my new partner. I now live a fair distance from the children's grandmother (mother's mother) and we have fallen out over several issues recently. She also has never accepted my move away or my new partner and has had ongoing issues about this that she's been unwilling to discuss. I stopped her seeing the children following a significant argument in front of them that she started which was wholly inappropriate. I asked us to sort out the issues and then continue contact but she never replied until 6 weeks later when I was asked to go to mediation. I did and then offered to attend the joint session which she also said she wanted to attend only for her to then back out completely. She's now dictating an informal contact arrangement which is not reasonable or says she'll take me to court for a contact order. My life is very busy and complex and a formal contact order will not ultimately work for me or my children at all. I also don't want to put the children through yet another very stressful situation and they have both voiced that they just want us to sort out the issues and go back to how it was before. I've offered this to her in the past but she's unwilling. If she does go to court I'd resist any contact order at all as I don't think it would work or be in the children's best interest but would she be likely to succeed to get one?

Our Response:
It is very difficult to prediict what a court may decide. However, a court will always want the issue to be sorted out via mediation first. So, it may be that the grandmother may apply to court and court may recommend mediation again, especially she let the process down in the first place and you were willing to negotiate via this process. It may be worth seeking some legal advice in order to explore your best options.
SeparatedDads - 28-Nov-16 @ 12:12 PM
My wife died several years ago and I have two children that live with me and my new partner. I now live a fair distance from the children's grandmother (mother's mother) and we have fallen out over several issues recently. She also has never accepted my move away or my new partner and has had ongoing issues about this that she's been unwilling to discuss. I stopped her seeing the children following a significant argument in front of them that she started which was wholly inappropriate. I asked us to sort out the issues and then continue contact but she never replied until 6 weeks later when I was asked to go to mediation. I did and then offered to attend the joint session which she also said she wanted to attend only for her to then back out completely. She's now dictating an informal contact arrangement which is not reasonable or says she'll take me to court for a contact order. My life is very busy and complex and a formal contact order will not ultimately work for me or my children at all. I also don't want to put the children through yet another very stressful situation and they have both voiced that they just want us to sort out the issues and go back to how it was before. I've offered this to her in the past but she's unwilling. If she does go to court I'd resist any contact order at all as I don't think it would work or be in the children's best interest but would she be likely to succeed to get one?
Jim - 27-Nov-16 @ 12:33 PM
My son is registered on my grandsons birth certificate but my son died several years ago. My son never married his partner at the time but now she has recently married and has another child to her new husband. She has now changed my grandsons name to her new married name without consulting me. As the grandmother of my sons son and being next of kin on my sons behalf, do I have any rights? Is she allowed to do this without asking me? Please advise, thanks
Don - 24-Nov-16 @ 6:16 PM
My child's father's parents have never once contacted me to see their grandchild. (5 yo). I don't have any contact details for them only he has. When I asked to see his parents to arrange contact and have a sit down he told me it was nothing to do with me or them. That it was only to do with him. But surely I deserve a chance to sit down with them and talk about what has happened. The child's father has been caught out in so many lies and he doesn't want them to come out. His lies have caused his parents to miss out on their grandchild's life.He has painted me as this evil person to them. I have sent several letters and text messages to him telling his parents to contact me. He refuses to give me their details so if I could contact them I have no means to. I don't know where to go from here. Some advise would be nice.
SinglePar - 23-Nov-16 @ 11:31 PM
Can i stop my kids from seeing their grandparents and what action would i have to take to stop them seeing my children
Closey - 19-Nov-16 @ 1:38 PM
Declansmummy - Your Question:
My son lives with perternal grandma I'm supposed yo have access through her bit her and my ex -child's father tell me my son dosnt need me, he's five years old they have stopped me seeing him for 2years. I have taken them to court 3 times and the courts are happy for me to see my boy but every time I had tried to sort it they denied me what can. I do I hate the thought of my boy growing up not knowing who I am Someone please help me

Our Response:
If you have a court order to say you have access, your ex or his grandparents are obliged to keep to the order, and if they try to stop access, you can have the order enforced, please see link here. A solicitor's letter reminding your ex of the legal obligations attached to the order may do the trick.
SeparatedDads - 14-Nov-16 @ 11:10 AM
My son lives with perternal grandma I'm supposed yo have access through her bit her and my ex -child's father tell me my son dosnt need me,he's five years old they have stopped me seeing him for 2years.I have taken them to court 3 times and the courts are happy for me to see my boy but every time I had tried to sort it they denied me what can. I do I hate the thought of my boy growing up not knowing who I am Someone please help me
Declansmummy - 13-Nov-16 @ 7:16 AM
Gramma's monkey - Your Question:
My 18 year old stepson has a 7 month old little boy. My stepson is going through court for access. At this time he has 2 hours a week on Saturdays at my house. He is also going through criminal court for other matters that have nothing to do with his son. My question is if he is found guilty and goes to jail he wants us to have his access with his son. So because he is the father will the courts let us have his access time at his request?

Our Response:
It is a difficult question to answer as it depends upon what the court decides is in the best interests of the child. Much also depends upon the mother's opinion and how much contact you have with your grandson on a day-to-day basis. You would really need to seek legal advice here.
SeparatedDads - 10-Nov-16 @ 3:00 PM
My 18 year old stepson has a 7 month old little boy. My stepson is going through court for access. At this time he has 2 hours a week on Saturdays at my house.He is also going through criminal court for other matters that have nothing to do with his son.My question is if he is found guilty and goes to jail he wants us to have his access with his son.So because he is the father will the courts let us have his access time at his request?
Gramma's monkey - 10-Nov-16 @ 3:40 AM
I have a child with my deceased partner. His name was not on the birth certificate as I was still in a marriage and my husband name is on the birth certificate. My partners family are now trying to threaten and scare me to having access to my daughter. She is only 4 and already refuses to go. I wasn't married to my partner and his name is not on birth certificate but his family say they will take me to court for access. Do they have any rights. And can I Deny them access completly. My child has lived with me all her life and has only met them on a few occasions. Now they are asking for 3 times a week access for 4-5 hours at a time
Scared mom - 2-Nov-16 @ 12:50 PM
Maggie - Your Question:
I'm a grandmother of 4 year old twins nearly 2 years ago the mother to the twins after having both children on cpr for 19 months as were going for pre proceeding to take them away from her the father lives with me my son traveled down for the pre proceeding meeting in the mean time there was a report that the children had been serverly beaten as told my son to take the children they been living with my son and my self for nearly 2 years and the mother thinks she's got rights to have contact with the twins were r at our wits end here worried odversly she Denid hurting the twin but when the children were interviewed by the police they said she had done it but she blamed it on the children's fighting not a chance can any small child cause the bruises these children had she had also had them around 3 pedophiles

Our Response:
I'm afraid this is beyond our remit to advise as we can only give basic guidance. You may wish to seek legal advice if you wish to stop the mother having contact for safeguarding reasons, you may also wish to speak with Social Services directly if you are concerned.
SeparatedDads - 28-Oct-16 @ 2:51 PM
I'm a grandmother of 4 year old twins nearly 2 years ago the mother to the twins after having both children on cpr for 19 months as were going for pre proceeding to take them away from her the father lives with me my son traveled down for the pre proceeding meeting in the mean time there was a report that the children had been serverly beaten as told my son to take the children they been living with my son and my self for nearly 2 years and the mother thinks she's got rights to have contact with the twins were r at our wits end here worried odversly she Denid hurting the twin but when the children were interviewed by the police they said she had done it but she blamed it on the children's fighting not a chance can any small child cause the bruises these children had she had also had them around 3 pedophiles
Maggie - 27-Oct-16 @ 8:40 PM
While my mother and STEPFATHER WERE LOOKING AFTER MY DAUGHTER THEYLEFT MY DAUGHTER WHEN SHE WAS 7 UNSUPERVISED SURF THE NET I COUGHT HER WATHCHING PORN ON STEP DADS COMPUTER THE SECIND TIME I SAID NO To A SMART PHONE GRANDAD AND NANNY LET HER HAVEone i said no to INSTAGRAM ON HER PHONE AFTER I SAID NO TO ITthey installed it on her phone SHE GOT GROOMED THEY LEAVE MY DAUGHTER TO DO WHAT EVER SHE WANTS NIW THERE SPREADING LIES ABOUT ME AND MY PARTNER
Dave158 - 25-Oct-16 @ 9:05 AM
Worried mum to be - Your Question:
Im 6 months pregnant and have had no contact of any kind with my husbands family for a number of years. I feel they would have/cause a very negative toxic and emotionally damaging atmosphere/effect if involved in my child's life. I completely understand everything from my husbands view point (obviously he want his family involved) as he does mine but where do I stand. Can I refuse them access?

Our Response:
It's a tricky situation as you are both married and it is a situation you would have to resolve between you both, as both of you will have equal parental responsibility.
SeparatedDads - 17-Oct-16 @ 9:59 AM
Im 6 months pregnant and have had no contact of any kind with my husbands family for a number of years. I feel they would have/cause a very negative toxic and emotionally damaging atmosphere/effect if involved in my child's life. I completely understand everything from my husbands view point (obviously he want his family involved) as he does mine but where do I stand. Can I refuse them access?
Worried mum to be - 16-Oct-16 @ 1:04 AM
tinker - Your Question:
My sons age 13+11 have made their own decision not to see there paternal grandmother. However ive had txs and letters,calls and visit trying to beg me for contact. Ive only respected my sons wishes and there sick of it. Now recently the grandmother has application for child arrangement order causing me more stress of how this is affecting my children when they simply dont want to see her. Im being dragged thru this for simply supporting my children respecting there wishes. What do you advise or your opinion?

Our Response:
If your children do not wish to see their grandmother, then due to their age they will be consulted upon when Cafcass gets involved to write its report for the court's consideration. There is no telling what the court may decide, but it is likely it will take on board your children's preferences regarding this matter.
SeparatedDads - 27-Sep-16 @ 2:07 PM
My sons age 13+11 have made their own decision not to see there paternal grandmother. However ive had txs and letters,calls and visit trying to beg me for contact. Ive only respected my sons wishes and there sick of it. Now recently the grandmother has application for child arrangement order causing me more stress of how this is affecting my children when they simply dont want to see her. Im being dragged thru this for simply supporting my children respecting there wishes. What do you advise or your opinion?
tinker - 26-Sep-16 @ 11:40 PM
Di- Your Question:
I recently lost my son.he has a 6 month old daughter.who after being a child at need through social services.has been given back to her mother.I was having contact 2 days a week. The baby staying over one night a week.now her mother has stopped my Accsess to the baby.what can I do to resolve this.what rights do I have.any information in similar circumstances would be appreciated

Our Response:
I am very sorry to hear this. The only course here is to seek legal advice to see whether you can have the contact reinstated via a court order.
SeparatedDads - 12-Sep-16 @ 12:49 PM
I recently lost my son .he has a 6 month old daughter .who after being a child at need through social services ..has been given back to her mother ..I was having contact 2 days a week. The baby staying over one night a week .now her mother has stopped my Accsess to the baby ..what can I do to resolve this .what rights do I have .any information in similar circumstances would be appreciated
Di - 11-Sep-16 @ 8:46 PM
guy's what can I do if the grandfatherof the childdoesn't allow my babyboy to visitme and I alreadypay the damage
KG - 10-Sep-16 @ 10:34 AM
Me and my wife have had our grandson living with us nearly 3 year with his dad who lives here but we have brought him up.My grandsons mother who in the 3 year has had minimal contact and so has her mother.His Mother decided the other day she wanted him for the night so we said yes fine and she picked him up and took him,half hr later receive a message saying he isnt coming back again. We are absolutely devastated she has been sectioned in the past for various things and has a split personality flips for the slightest thing.We rung the Police and not interested,phoned the social services as they have been involved in the past and once again not interested. We rung a Family Solicitor who advised us what the mother has done is illegal demand the Social Services come out to see us and Still Nothing are we banging our heads against a brick wall it feels like it
lotty lettuice - 5-Aug-16 @ 4:06 PM
Dog-of-War11 - Your Question:
I have a 2 week old son. I am 18, the mother of my child is 17, living with her mother. The mother of my child and I have a very good relationship, she wants me to have visitation. But the grandmother of my son refuses to let me see him. She refuses to let me go over and see them, and refuses to let me pick her up to see them. Can the grandmother legally refuse to give me custody if the mother of my child is living with her?

Our Response:
I suggest you seek legal advice. If you do not have the money for paid legal advice you may be able to get the first half an hour free from a family law solicitor, or try one of the online family law advice sites such as the Coram Legal Centre here and/or the likes of JustAnswer here. If the grandmother is asserting her parental repsonsibility over her daughter, then you may need to take the issue to court in order to gain access to your child.
SeparatedDads - 5-Aug-16 @ 2:07 PM
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