Home > Legal > Paternal Grandparents' Rights

Paternal Grandparents' Rights

By: Chris Nickson - Updated: 13 Mar 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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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
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
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