Fighting to see your grandchildren?

Family|November 19th 2017

When someone becomes a grandparent, it’s generally a very happy event and nobody expects to one day find themselves fighting to even see the adorable kids in question.

But sadly for all concerned – not least the children themselves – grandparents can and do find themselves shut out. If their son or daughter splits up with their husband or wife, contact can suddenly go from a routine and joyful event to an exhausting struggle. The parents are, however, more likely to find themselves in this situation.

Do grandparents have any automatic legal rights?

This answer is no, but do not despair. The law does recognise that children have a right to a family life: and that family life does include grandparents with whom they have a good relationship – or at least, have done so in the past.

They won’t let me see my grandchildren – what on earth can I do?!

Don’t despair. There are measures you can take. If battle lines have been drawn and bitterness and family breakdown is keeping you from your children, you can turn to the family courts for assistance. This is, however, a two-step process. First you must apply to the court to permission to ask for help! A formality in most cases, but do bear this requirement in mind. Once you have obtained this permission you can then go ahead and apply for a court order specifying your right to see your grandchildren.

When is the best time to take action?

This is an important point. Turning to the courts before you’ve tried all you can to mediate and reconcile is a more-or-less guaranteed to way to antagonise the parents, especially the parent in law.

But if you dilly-dally too long positions could become entrenched and that all-important relationship with your grandchildren could start to fray at the edges. If that occurs, your legal position will start to weaken. It is a delicate balancing act. We recommend seeking advice from a solicitor. They will be able to work out the right time to take action.

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  1. Helen says:

    Mine was international. Court orders made through the British Court System. But I could not get my rights through the Spanish Court System. It because my grandchild became ill and cried for me. Can you imagine how this feels.
    Over ten years later, the other family would not except mediation after a non return. A very stormy non return, that’s all I can say.
    Now, 14 years later the situation remains the same.
    How do you repair the damage done? In this case maybe never.
    If there is a way for me to help others, I’ve joined with others to promote the unfairness here and abroad.

  2. Andrew says:

    This may not be a popular point of view round here. But while I think it is too easy for a PWC to break up a child’s relationship with the NRP – such as by moving away – and the law there needs reform, that does not apply to grandparents or an other relations. They should have no status to apply unless the court is satisfied that denying the child contact with them will do serious harm to the child – which it rarely will. Grandparents and aunts and uncles are not parents and should not be treated as if they were.

  3. Terry says:

    I have always said there should not be a law giving grandparents automatic rights of access to the grandchildren, with the reason being that if both separated parents had good shared parenting time then those parents would surely make time for the children to see grandparents, but because family law does not work properly what happens is in a number of cases one parent will get pushed out of their own children’s lives, with family judges not willing to put their foot down and stop the pwc using the children as weapons to get at their ex, if grandparents want to see their grandchildren then they should surely be fighting for the rights of the parents first.
    i would also like to add that in my case the maternal grandparents have played a major part in stopping me as a father from having contact with my own two daughters for the past 15 years, this is despite the girls living less than 500 yards from my house, and even with court orders saying they should be having contact with me, i have written about some of the things that went on whilst i was trying to get access through the courts on a weekly blog, this can be found by looking me up pn facebook, do a search for [name removed] and you should find it.

    • Cameron Paterson says:

      Sorry Terry, but for legal reasons we can’t feature the full names of individuals involved in contentious cases involving children

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