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Paternal Grandparents' Rights

By: Chris Nickson - Updated: 9 Jun 2023 | 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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I haven’t seen my grandson for two years he was 8 when I last saw him , we use to have him every weekend . Dad not really a good dad . My question is if I drove past his school just to see him not approach him would I be breaking the law . Thank you
Angie - 9-Jun-23 @ 6:04 PM
My stepson has a son with his ex, she is a control freak, is paranoid due to excessive drug use prior to her pregnancy, he is only allowed to see his son at her house and is not allowed to take him out alone. He is not himself at all and does exactly what he is told where this son is concerned and will not run the risk of going to court as she wouldprevent him access whilst waiting for court dates, he says this would kill him so he can't do it. The child has not been socialised at all (is nearly 3) and only sees his Mum, Dad when allowed and her parents and her Grandfather.He has been diagnosed with level 2 autism but receives very little stimulation. The only reason we are not allowed to see the child is that we would not do as we were told to by her, something her own parents do to prevent the child being withdrawn from them. We have real concerns for our Grandson but it seems legally we are not in a position to do anything about it, can anyone give us some advice please? Please don't suggest talking to her or mediation she would not speak to us and would refuse mediation. It seems like a form of abuse to us, are there any routes open to us in England? Thank you
Carol Harris - 18-May-23 @ 8:44 PM
both parents and both children do not want a relationship with the grandma!! she threatened to lock our 5 year old in the house alone and then blamed our 8 year old for grassing her up thi resulted in our 8 year old needing cahms therapy as she was panicked that everyone hated her and was scared the grandma would call nack to the house and tell her off so we said she could only see the children supervised she refused and has taken us tp court. there are no safeguarding issues or welfare issues with these kidd they are very well looked after. how likely that she will gain contact even though the children do nit wish to see her?
t - 18-Apr-23 @ 4:14 PM
My son and his wife had my grand daughter when they was 18 And both of them was heavy into drug's. ( but so was her mother ) Her mother had R most of the time when she was born keeping her from my son, and his family but her daughter could visit. 3 years later my grandson was was born ( sadly he was born an addict) when my grandson was about 10 months she filed for temporary custody of both kids. No matter how hard I tried to see them I was shot down !! She would tell me yes then when I showed up to get them the law was called ?? this went on for a couple years. Then when kids was 5 and 2 she invited both parents over for dinner ( there was lots of drinking and other things ) at this time papers was signed by both to terminate their parental rights. Nasty trick but she did it ! I haven’t seen them since. So to make a long story short my daughter-in-law passed away of a drug overdose in 2020. Two weeks after that her younger sister committed suicide by a drug overdose. Two months after that their stepfather passed away of a massive heart attack. And this past March 13 of 2022 her mother passed away from cirrhosis of the liver and other complications I’m not sure of. So this left my two grandkids with no guardian. But my son is now 37 years old he has put the drug life behind him he has a good stable job and has been this way for about five years. We went to the courts and a plied for emergency custody only to be told that he signed his rights away 12 years ago and he is no longer considered their biological father. What the hell is this they said that because I was a complete stranger to these children they would not place them in my custody at this time . But yet they’re in foster care I just don’t understand ! Plz help !!!
Mimi - 24-May-22 @ 4:42 AM
Please can you help my son n partner split she was bad on heavy drugs her parentshave taken our grandaughter n won't let us have access my son has tried to take his own life now on medication.. but carnt get any help to see her they say they've got grandparentsrightshe is on birth certificate.. mother not interested is there anything we can do before this gets theyve even changed nursery withouthim been consentedthankyou
Millie - 12-Oct-21 @ 11:28 AM
I have 2 grandchildren who have been our lives for the past 10 years.. my son and there mother are separated and have been for 6 years.. its been a real roller coaster with her dictating when my son sees them. Changing her mind if it doesn't.t suit her. She has now blocked all our contact with her when they are with her and we only see them when they with our son, she won't allow them to ring us or message us.. this breaks my heart as I want them to be able to contact us anytime they want too, and we want them to knw they have grandparents who want to spend more time with them. She will poison them against us as she as done this to her own family..
Sharon21h - 2-Sep-21 @ 6:46 AM
I had my grandson and his girlfriend living with me when she got pregnant. I bought everything the baby ever needed his pram,cot,clothes, nappies and his milk I helpedlook after him and eventually doing everything for him that was for 3 years he is my life I gave him all the love he needed and I still do. My grandson and his girlfriend split and she left the baby here with his dad ,my daughter my grandsons mother took them to her house now she has an interim order for the baby she made his bedroom in a cupboard with no window and thinks this is OK.she has started ignoring us when we ask if we can have him for the day .he screams when we take him back or if they pick him up .
Pat - 10-Aug-21 @ 7:40 PM
My grandson has lived with us since 2015 threw a residence order he is now 8yrs old and mum thinks it's best if he went to live with her now he is doing great at school and had no problems living with us so what's the chances of her getting custody back please can someone help here my heart is breaking he has also lived in our home since the day he was born so it's like bringing up your own thankyou to anyone who can enlighten me please
Diane - 13-Jul-21 @ 7:13 PM
Hi Can anyone advise me .. I’m a grandmother who has custody of my grandchild . My grandchild by order of court has a over night stay once a week and order states maternal grandparents return my grandchild .. the maternal grandmother has remarried is her partner classed as maternal grandparent .. I understood that maternal grandparents are the mothers parents .. so is new partner also classed as maternal to bring grandchild home or should it just be the child’s mother’s mother .. So confused
Granny33 - 20-Feb-21 @ 11:36 PM
So my daughters father isn’t on the birth certificate or anything he had a little bit of contact when she was born but that was it as he was abusive. My daughter was seeing her paternal grandparents at first sometimes but they always made me feel pressured to let her dad see her. I just ended up stopping the contact and now they’re saying they want to take me to court even though they constantly slag me off and I don’t want that around my daughter. My daughter is now 1 years old and hasn’t seen them for a couple of months now, do you actually have any rights to see her and if it went to court do I actually have to attend?
Mummy - 29-Jan-21 @ 10:40 AM
Is my granddaughter who I gave limited access to through the court due to breakdown of relationship with my daughter able to see me whenever she wants after the age of 16 ??
She - 19-Aug-20 @ 12:09 PM
My daughter she had a little girl when she was 17 years old the father's in jail for attempted murder and my granddaughters for she's going to be 5 and the mother is always out and about not working she gets EBT and food stamps and she pays me $200 for rent and $35 for the phone and the rest of the money which is almost $500 goes I don't know where she doesn't buy anything for her child or nothing of food stamps will make sure that her friends are taken care of before she buys anything for the house I'm taking care of my granddaughter by myself I buy her clothes and toys and I give her a good home I bring it to school I'll pick her up I take her to the doctors and everything today I went to the dentist to make an appointment and they told me that I need to have permission from the mother when I asked the mother to write me a letter she thinks I want to take the baby away from her and I told her no I just want to care for her I don't want you EBT I don't want your food stamps I just want to take care of the baby I want to make sure she goes to the doctor I want to make sure if in case of an emergency something that says that I can do this and she's not listen she doesn't care what do I do as a grandparent I need help to take care of this beautiful little girl I've been raising almost by myself
Angie - 18-Jul-20 @ 1:01 AM
Hello there, I was 7 when my mother passed away, and 12 when my father walked out and wanted nothing to do with us, my mothers parents went through the courts and gained custody of me and my sister and have since lived with them. My Nan said to me the other day that my father has never paid child support to them, not one penny. I wanted to ask whether they have a legal right to that money? And how I go about dealing with it? Any help is appreciated, thank you.
Jaz - 8-Jul-20 @ 2:59 PM
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
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