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Paternal Grandparents' Rights

By: Chris Nickson - Updated: 22 May 2020 | comments*Discuss
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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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Please advise!! I have just shared my papers with the court and my ex solicitor to get access to my 4 month old son, firstly, she has lied so much and I believe I'm not allowed to take anything else to the court. Secondly, she says she only wants me on my own to see my son for the first 6 weeks to build a bondand not my family! Surely my family HIS family are important too? Please help!
Gwenzo - 22-May-20 @ 7:13 PM
I want to write a hand written will stating that if I die before my children I would like my mum to be legal guardian of my son. He hasn’t seen his dad in over 2 years he’s only 4 but fathers on birth certificate. What can I do?
Mum - 10-May-20 @ 1:24 PM
Hi, I have seperatedfrom my wife and have had to go back and live with my mother.I have ask my ex to see my children and she has agreed only if I do not let then see my mother, which means asking my mother to leave the house when they come. Can my ex demand this?
Craig - 17-Apr-20 @ 1:21 PM
My son had a heated argument with husband and now my son has cut us off from seeing our grandchildren. We looked after our grandson from 6.30 to 5.30 twice a week every week so my son and his partner could go to work. My husband had a lovely relationship as did I with our grandson. We are heartbroken,I have tried texting every week but I get no reply, we live 6minutes from where my son lives but my son’s partnerhas been to our house maybe 5 times in 5yrs. Last February my husband and son had a terrible argument and both said terrible things to one another,after that I left it for a couple of weeks before asking if we could see our Grandchildren( our Grandaugter is 9months old and we have only seen her three times since she was born last July). My son’s reply was No! and that he didn’t think we we were stable? which is so out of order,we are great grandparents! This all came about from this argument and seemingly they won’t budge. I have sent presents for birthdays and Easter,I text my son every week to tell him how much we love him and his family, even giving my son money and yes he accepted it but he won’t let us see our Granchildren. I have tried saying that Grandchildren need both Maternal and Paternal Grandparents but the last message he sent me was devestating to me and my husband. My son said “L never asks after you”. It has cut us to pieces,when for two years we took care of him his son and his home,I cleaned washed and ironed for them and this is how we have been repaid.We have taken our Grandson son out every week never taken a penny even though it has cost us thousands £’s. I just cannot believe That my son has turned on us so Cruelly. We are Heartbroken!
Abs - 12-Apr-20 @ 7:26 AM
My ex daughter refuses contact of all kinds for us (grandparents) and their father there was a court order done for dad to see them every week end but one weekend we could not have them it upset the mother now she won’t let any of us see them we have called wrote letters to her but she is ignoring all can you help please
Loo - 4-Mar-20 @ 1:05 AM
What rights does my baby’s dad have when it comes to my son? He’s not on the birth certificate and barely provides for him! When he was born he didn’t see him for 8 weeks. Also his family want to see him? Do I have to let them or can I refuse?
Clo1998 - 3-Mar-20 @ 8:31 PM
Me an my husband have spilt but we am still friends an working things out for the boys an the house will live In with is mine an my husband. The mothering law is saying that I am not stoping in this house as she owns 10% witch I did not know. And she is also saying that she going to take my 3 beautiful boys off me can she do that
Mommy - 19-Feb-20 @ 11:36 PM
My partner attacked me and I have stopped all contact with me and my daughter from him and all his family his mother can not be trusted to keep him away from us all I want to do is protect my daughter and myself does she have any rights to gain access to my daughter? What happens if I get a date for court through the post and I ignore it will I get in trouble for not attending?
Jonsy - 15-Feb-20 @ 10:58 AM
So my in laws are controlling my partner theaten her with take our son off us if she doesn't leave me she being lied to n bullyed by them we were and amazing family safe home loveing our son with everything we have she that scared she listened to them won't let her bring my son my house or even let me have him because she scared of theats iv told her look it up we jst Wana b a family again how is they can do this n stop a loving father from being with his family n looking after them it been long hard Rd they even sent her away for 3months y do they think they have power break up family whn Al we do is love each other and our boy trying talk her into stop believing them n let them try because I no we win we are a safe n loving family just all messed up
Luke Chapman - 27-Jan-20 @ 2:40 PM
@ (sam ).There is no need for contact or court cases for visitation .because for the (millionth time I was born sterile) .i would like to say (stay away from me we have nothing to discuss ).the child is in your care and your partners care and I hope you have a amazing life together.on a (serous note) if I see you around my house you are going to (aggravate me ).i am going to ask you for once inyour life to show me sum (respect please and respect my wishes and stay away from me forever( gods truth )I have seen in the past where you (respected every other guy expect me ).now all I am asking is for you to stay away from me forever please .and stop referring to me as your son you are nothing to me gods truth and the same with your child I swear this on the bible.if it makes you feel better you can say it’s the alcohol or disability I really don’t care gods truth .
Chris - 18-Jan-20 @ 12:55 AM
This is two mother off my (uncles child) stop trying to (mould yourself) to me seriously .i don’t want contact either does my (mother or any off my family gods truth ).we are not taking you to (court) .this is (gods truth sam on the bible No games or lies or ill feelings )I was tested and I was born (sterile ).what don’t you (understand about that) ?.i have come to terms with you and got over the (hurt off you having affairs right under my nose) .i am in no (pain anymore) and just started dating a women .please remove my surname legally from your daughter .this my last post for real this time .
C w laurie - 17-Jan-20 @ 11:56 PM
My son has lost contact with his daughter due to alcohol and abuse I wish to see my grandaughter but his partner wont let me . She said it would affect her emotionally so would affect her looking after my grandaughter. She has made accusations against me which are inaccurate. She says my grandaughter doesn't remember me which is probably true as I only saw her for the first year of her life she is now nearly two. I'm thinking of apply to the family court but dont know if I will stand a chance
Hoppy - 17-Jan-20 @ 10:37 PM
I have had my grandchildren for 2 years now do i have any rights
Amd - 12-Jan-20 @ 6:40 PM
Hi I have raised my grandchild as much as her parents e.g every weekend plus added week days and she has been with me since she was born this amount of time,so much her school is on my road she was like my own she cries for me all the time and now my son and his girlfriend have split up and gone to her other grandparents who she had never met, they are now refusing any contact and I'm broken I cant sleep or eat, and until my son goes to court we feel helpless is there anything I can do..
Looby33 - 22-Nov-19 @ 7:06 PM
@rach.if mother off child let my daughter come to my Auntys 60 birthday in feb .that be interesting it depends on my (mood) it could go ether way it depends on a lot off things and (people ).might be like the old days where all hell breaks lose women crying screaming kids upset cake gets knock over .my daughter thinking no wonder mum keeped me away from you .or I could (say nothing )and in joy my daughter company and watch her meet my side off the family .
Chriso - 13-Nov-19 @ 2:57 AM
My ex husband (4 years) is begging me to let my 7 year old daughter see his mum.She has not seen her since my daughter was 2 and she went to prison for defrauding an old lady (with dementia and no family) out of all her money whilst taking out loans and credit cards in her name, whilst the lady was in her care at the residential home.She has been reckless in the past with her own children and I fear for my daughters safety if she got access. Where do I stand? My daughter doesn’t remember her and I am not denying her anything by not allowing access as she has the rest of her grand parents plus my fiancée family and my ex husbands new family.She has oodles of love and care from us all. He is adamant that I should let my daughter go to his mums 60th is January and I am so worried that he will just take her and something awful will happen. Please help anyone! Any advice would be very welcome x
Rach - 13-Nov-19 @ 12:25 AM
Himy son had a child which he has never seen. I have been seeing and financialy supply the mother, and my grandson. Its all on her terms though,i dont get to see him when i want to, and when i do the mothers mum slags me off on social media. I dont see my son because of the break up, and was hoping to have a relationship withy grandson. I just feel very sad and used.
Crazy1 - 20-Oct-19 @ 12:10 PM
My mother in law has always offered to look after my kids when IV been at work now I'm unreasonable using my kids as a weapon because I said I needed them home at 2 because we were at a party at 3 and she said they won't be back so obviously they couldn't go. Now she's called me every name under the sun to my partner who has stuck up for me and now I'm turning the family against him. I'm so annoyed and can afford childcare IV never used it because she has always offered I feel like I want to use a child minder now because she's so vile and horrible to me but is that fair?
Sjp - 14-Sep-19 @ 12:52 PM
I have just removed my children from their mothers care as she is not mentally fit to look after them. Was just wondering if when I'm at work. My mum looks after them for me. Could the mum legally go round and take the children back. Do I have to physically need to be there to stop her with my pr rights.
Bradley - 5-Sep-19 @ 3:34 PM
I haven't stopped my boyfriend's mum or sister from seeing there granddaughter and niece they have taken it upon them selves to not want to be involved but his sister wants to go through a contact centre and his mum wants a copy of her birth certificate can I refuse these if so what do I do please I'm a first time mum and really scared there Gunna take my child away from me
Becca - 4-Aug-19 @ 8:20 AM
I am divorcing my wife and my step daughter of 30 years, she is now 33. So have been there nearly all of her life and raised her as one of my own. Is now denying me seeing her 4 children . The oldest of which is 13 and youngest is 8. They have not know any one other than me as grandad. Is there any thing I can do by law to see them . As I miss them terribly. Thanks
ET - 31-Jul-19 @ 12:15 PM
Hi I'm looking for some advice, my ex has no contact ruled by the court to our son, due to the severe level of physical and psychological abuse I suffered from him. Now I am being taken to court for his parents to apply for access to see him. They were only in his life for a matter of weeks. My son is now 5 and was a baby when they met. There has been no contact since and he has no memory of them. Im scared this is just another way of controlling me and my son. What is the likely hood of a court allowing them access considering what I have mentioned above. Thank you
Queenofscotts - 19-Jul-19 @ 3:04 PM
Hello. My wife has committed adultery and moved out of the marital home. Can i allow my daughter, son in law and grandchildren to move into the marital home with me. And can the wife then force me to sell the home
Geoff - 5-Jul-19 @ 3:44 PM
I need some advice.my son 18yrs old and his gf 17yrs old,she is 31weeks pregnant, my family are 100% supportive,her family very much not,due to her age,things shes said,always seeking attention through lies,her total attitude to her pregnancy her midwife referred her to soc serv,i had a home visit lastweek from soc services there happy with my situation,baby living ere with mother after shes born obviously more visits will follow, i have my concerns about after the babys born i.m struggling to even imagine her even wanting tobe a mum,theres no maternal instint there at all,no excitement,its all about her, shes never lived with her mum, she spends most weeks aguing with her dad and his wife, shes always seeking his approval, theres a lot of background there but not sure wat,soc services are looking into that as the babys mum refused to speak about anything relating to her fam while i was in the room, As the babys paternal grandmother were do i stand as for caring for baby once shes born ? If mum did decide to leave my home with baby,then baby would be a protection order put in place as they don.t think mum is mentally ready for a baby,my son is ready hes doing everything shes supposed to be doing,i just don.t no wat to do, i just can.t sit back and watch her use my grandchild as a tool to get attention from her family or not do anything at all.
Lynnwilson17 - 29-Jun-19 @ 2:48 PM
Hello, I have a 15 month old baby and a happy and healthy life with my partner and his mum who lives with us. My mum and me however are no longer on talking terms, she is now threatening to take me to court to gain access to seeing my son, can she do this? I do not believe she is mentally safe for my son to be around, after telling me at one point to just tell me to tell my son (who was 13months old at the time) that she died while he was a baby! I’m worried she’ll take us to court and get access that we do not want her having to him.
Hayley - 22-May-19 @ 7:47 PM
Hi my daughter is only 3 years old, anyway my daughters biological father hurt her when she was a baby and cannot have unsupervised contact , besides that his dad and step mum took me to court for a contact order to see her every 2 weeks for 24 hours anyway to the point I’m wanting to move and I will be moving to Scotland and im just wondering what will happend I don’t want them to know as yet that I’m moving because they will cause me a lot of trouble and don’t want that.
Kim - 5-Mar-19 @ 12:35 PM
Hi my daughter is nearly 18 and she made decisionshe don't want see certain family members, well my dad says he taking me to court to see his gran daughter who he hasn't seen in nearly 3 years ,and he said his ex wife has right to see my daughter even tho they divorced ,and she was only my step mum and my daughter don't want see her either but he now ignoring my texts and his gran daughter's texts about going see him and my step sister says she wants see my daughter now too when she nothing but trouble
Mandy - 5-Feb-19 @ 6:52 PM
My daughter and her boyfriend have 2 boys under the age of 5 , they have now split up. My daughter has both boys he is living with an "ex junky" he won't say exactly where he is living to socal security he tells them he lives at his mums house which he isnt he is bared from my daughters house because of abusive language in front if the kids to her, on visiting days to him i take the boysto himand collect the kidswhich is at his mothers house and he is never there when i arrive ive even passed him comming from his new girlfriends house. Now he has said he wants socialworker to visit my house as the kids sometimes visit with the wife and i . I also drive the kids to and from school each morning niether him or my daughter have a car I dont want socialworkerat my house its not for them to judge me or my wife or house but he is dragging us into thier breakup this has all started since he wastold he has to pay maintanance for the boys as he wasnt doing so before and he has asked for specific days and overnights so he doesn't have to pay the full payment prior to he didnt arrive to pick up the boys on the day and time arranged no appoligy from him when we rang him he just said he was busy
Grumppa - 18-Oct-18 @ 2:42 PM
My daughter in law has a lot of emotional problems and struggles with life in general, she married my son 10 months ago they have two beautiful little children together though 8dsys after their wedding she became emotionally unwell and left the children with me and left not even telling my son. We frantically searched for her then when finally finding her via instagram photos she posted got her into the mental health ward for help, she then checked herself out and left again but created a lot og heart ache for her little children and my son. He had to leave work for a few months to care for his children and they all lived with my husband and I untill she decided she wanted help, she has been to Mum's and Bubs clinic a while ago and we thought she was coping much better and they tried married life again but within a few weeks she had taken off again this time with the children and has been seeing another man. In that time she has moved the children from place to place and creating hell for my son, she has tried to take her own life a few years ago and constantly comes out with totally unreasonable behaviour and blames whom ever she wants to hurt including her own grandparents who cared for her all her life. She's been using the children as leverage to get her own way and has now denied everyone in both families access to the children and makes it difficult for their father. I'm worried for my grandchildren as the oldest aged just 3 is now very angry all the time. My son is happy to co parent with her but she changes her mind almost daily on what he can and can't do. My son has a home and a good job and a great support network with our family but she won't let him take the children to see the family and their cousins whom they adore. At a loss as to what to do.
Kaz - 29-Sep-18 @ 12:09 PM
Dee - Your Question:
Hi just looking for some advice or help please? Me and my partner broke up last year we have a court order in place and both have parental responsibility of our child we have had a few ups and downs and arguments. Now the parental grandmother is denying me access to see my child does she have a right to denie contact with our child?

Our Response:
The grandparent has no 'legal' right to stop access, but she can make things difficult if the other parent of your child gives her permission to do so. The link here , should tell you all you need to know regarding what you have to do to take the matter further.
SeparatedDads - 21-Sep-18 @ 9:46 AM
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