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Grandparents Rights - court proceedings(55 Posts)
Me and my fiance have a 18 month old son and have just received court proceedings from his mum (our sons grandmother) for a defined contact order.we have not spoken to her in 12 years as she caused a lot of trouble in the early part of our relationship.when we had our son she then pushed letters through my parents door where i lived demanding she saw him.i am not entitled to legal aid and cant afford a solicitor so will be representing ourselves in court.Any ideas what to expect or what to do! Im am terrified!
Hopefully someone more knowledgeable will be along to advise but my understanding is that grandparents have no automatic rights and it would be strange for courts to order access if there was no prior relationship.
If you search through the legal topic you will find similar stories which should hopefully give you comfort.
Watching with interest. Hope someone knowledgeable comes soon
She has no defined rights and, if she has had no contact with the child up to now, it is very unlikely she will be successful. Do some googling and find out how to get a Mackenzie (sp) Friend to go to Court with you, these are (usually) legally trained bods who will sit and advise you through the proceedings but cannot speak for you. Family Courts are, IME, held in smaller court rooms and tend to be more informal, the Judge will make allowances for the fact that you do not know the protocol.
Disclaimer: I'm not a lawyer.
However, are you in the UK?
If you are, please don't worry. No court is going to insist your child has contact from a grandparent they don't know, esp. one whose own child has no contact with them and who doesn't want their parent involved in their child's upbringing.
The only cases I've heard of where grandparents have been awarded access is when they've played a significant role in their grandchildren's life then this has stopped (due to divorce/death of the in-common parent).
these are (usually) legally trained bods
McKenzie friends are not required to have any legal training. Many of them don't.
Grandparents have to start by applying for leave to apply for contact. Even if the grandmother in this case get past that hurdle it is very unlikely she would get a contact order in this situation.
Yes,I am in the Uk.
I have everything crossed that she isnt granted anything.
Since the letter im hardly sleeping as I am so worried.
I know what this woman is like and dont want her anywhere near our son.
Any other advice or info would be really appreciated.
Does this mean she has applied for leave and been granted it already as the letters I have receieved are from the court.
prh47bridge - thanks for that, I understood that many of them were solicitors who provided this service pro bono, happy to be corrected
OP, if you have any doubts about the process speak to the Court, they will advise you.
Any more advice or information would b gratefully received
England and Scotland are two entirely separate legal systems - which country are you in?
Does this mean she has applied for leave and been granted it already
Without seeing the letters I don't know. The court can grant leave without a hearing but normally there will be a hearing to consider the application and you would be notified of that hearing.
Leave wouldn't be granted without a hearing. You have nothing to lose by objecting to leave.
To the OP - is there no way you can come to an agreement that avoids court? I can appreciate what you're saying but please explore other avenues.
Ask her for her proposals. If you think they're too much tell her. If you can't do this without arguing consider mediation. People often get into a `bunker mentality' that leads down a slippery slope into all out `war' (aka a court case) without trying to resolve things amicably.
Maybe ask her to write to allow her to visit or meet up for an hour in a neutral venue. She may be a lousy mother to your OH buy possibly a decent grandmother to your DS?
I know it's hard and I have personal experience. Despite my long and nasty case I proposed mediation in an effort to resolve matters amicably and you should always do your best to achieve this.
BTW - a McKenzie Friend is not the same as a solicitor. They do not have to be legally qualified, cannot litigate on your behalf and do not have automatic rights of audience. Some of them work pro bono as some lawyers do, others charge. And like lawyers they range from bloody awful to good. Always get references, always research, always use someone you are happy with.
We had a similar situation with my mother applying for leave to apply for contact with my son. Like you, we had denied her contact after a number of abusive letters, emails and texts and various other forms of harassment.
We sought advice from a solicitor and were told to apply for a non-molestation order to stop the harassment, which we did. This was heard at the same time as the application for leave to apply for contact, which we objected to. In the end we were granted our non-molestation order and my mother withdrew her application.
Bit of a brain dump but hopefully some of these things may be useful.
- Does your MIL have representation? If not, it is possible that she has made the wrong application. Our solicitor was surprised that my mother had completed the right forms given that she was representing herself.
- Keep all the evidence of harassment that you have suffered and be prepared to present it to court. This helped us greatly as the judge saw straight through her. I wouldn't recommend that you use mediation if she has been abusive as it probably won't be very productive. My mother was very keen to use mediation and when we spoke to the CAFCASS officer he was in complete denial about my mother's behaviour, despite the obvious evidence, so we knew that it would be useless. I suspect that we would have been under immense pressure to give contact if we had gone down this path and my mother's difficult behaviour would have continued.
- Grandparents only tend to get contact if they can demonstrate an ongoing relationship with the child or if they may add something to the child's upbringing that they could not get elsewhere. In our case, I am not British in origin and my mother made a case that only with her input could my son develop a full sense of cultural awareness. We countered this by demonstrating that he had a strong relationship with my extended family, including all my mother's siblings, and that would help build his cultural understanding. She also played upon the small amount of contact she had with him when he was a newborn and we were trying to build a relationship. We stressed that this had been a difficult time for us due to her unreasonable behaviour and we had cut contact short due to the abuse.
- We had two hearings. The first was a half hour directions hearing (apologies if I'm getting the terminology wrong) and where the judge gave directions to have a proper hearing at a later date. The second was booked in for a half day but the full time wasn't needed as my mother withdrew her application. We were required to put forward a statement to support our application for a non-molestation order and rebut the application for leave for contact. This just listed all the abuse (with some of the letters etc attached as exhibits) and detailed the lack of previous contact and relationships with other family members to demonstrate that my son was not being cut off from a significant part of his family. My mother also gave a statement and hers focussed on her previous relationship with him and the cultural input she could give.
- If you can afford some help but only have limited funds it may be worth looking at a direct access barrister. If you do this you will have to complete and submit all the court papers but they will be there on the day to advise and represent you. The other alternative may be to get a solicitor to help complete forms but you represent yourselves on the day.
Sorry for the information overload but hopefully it's been useful to you.
Sorry, couple more thoughts.
- Our solicitor asked us often if we were prepared to consider indirect contact, ie let me mother send cards, gifts and write to my son. I was very much against this as even seeing an envelope with her handwrting on upsets me and although DH could deal with it, I felt that there was a strong possibility that the messages could become toxic and wanted to shield my son. Eventually we did offer to send photos a few times a year so that we could control the contact and do it on our terms. She is not allowed to write to him.
- Finally, it is important to present your case in terms of what is in your son's best interests. It is not good for him to have parents that stressed because they are forced to endure a difficult relationship with his grandmother and subjected to harassment from her. It is also not in his interests to have a relationship with an individual that has subjected her own son to abusive behaviour.
Wow! Thank you karmakameleon for that information.
It totally infuriates me what she is trying to do.
she has never been a role model mother for my partner as has put so many men priority as a child (after her and my partners dad)divorced.He has a terrible upbringing and was kicked out by her at 13.
He tried to work things out and they were on speaking terms until 12 years ago.
she had tried to split up our relationship and involved my family,this is when we cut all ties.
she had split up my partners previous relationship because of this and he was adament she wasnt going to do it again
we have had no contact what so ever until our son was born when she demanded we took him to see her.
she harrased my mum and dad by posting letters through and shouting abuse through their door. My dad is ill and on palative care.
she has had no contact what so ever with our son but has spread rumours stating we have had money off her and turning tables making it look like were there bad ones.
I am totally terrified of going to court!
Yes she has representation and has stated in a c100 form that she has had no contact.
She sounds dreadful! I know how worrying it is, and I really stressed about it at the time, but it was ok in the end as although we had to go through the formal process, our reasons for denying contact were good and the judge saw that.
Did you keep the letters that she posted to your mum and dad? Would you or they consider going to the police and reporting the harassment?
Also does she say what type of contact she would like? My mother wanted to have DS overnight which was always going to be a non starter for a small baby who didn't even know her.
Yes we have the letters and on the form it states a defined contact order.
its been around a year ago when she was posting the letters etc and i feel her solicitor advised her to stop hence we having no more.
My partner has had to build up his life from scratch after the effects she has had on him and I know that in time a slight amount of contact (although I wont agree with that) would never be enough. She would end up demanding more and more!
I really do appreciate your help!
I dont see how it would work with us not talking to her and our son having a relationship. He is only 18 months but as he grows older it will obviously cause issues between us and him.
We have a perfect little family at the moment and dont want it being broken because of her.
I had similar issues with how contact could work if she wasn't talking to us but wanted to see our son. How could it even work on a practical level as she would need to speak to us to arrange contact.
Initially my mother was representing herself so was completely unreasonable in terms of the contact she wanted (overnights and skype even though he was a baby). By the 2nd hearing she had a barrister and he suggested contact through a contact centre but I felt that he was just chancing it. The real negotiation was around indirect contact.
My advice would be to be clear what you are willing to give. We knew that our hard line was that she could send DS a bday card, xmas card and possibly a gift of nominal value. We did not need to offer this though as in the end she accepted our offer to send photos.
With regards to the harassment, she may not have sent anything directly to your or your parents for a year but it sounds like she is bad mouthing you to others. Again my mother did similar, stopping the direct harassment when court proceeding began but continuing to spread lies about us to others. We had evidence of this and used this to prove that the harassment was ongoing although not direct.
Finally make sure that you express everything in terms of what is best for your son and not in terms of what she has done to you and your feelings. Your feelings are only important in so far that the stress she places you under is bound to affect your son. You need to be clear that she has nothing to offer your son that he could not get from you or his other grandparents and no ongoing relationship with him to foster. She is likely to do considerable harm to him in the long term if allowed to have a relationship with him and your only objective is to protect him from this.
Hope it goes well for you.
Today I recieved a letter from cafcass asking for me to call them so i could provide them with my phone number. I did so and was told a cafcass officer would call a week before the court date to discuss things.
any idea what this phone call will include and what i should disclose.
What you discuss OP will be put in what they call a schedule 2 which is a sort of report which will go to the court and remain in the file for this case so your telephone interview is very important.
You must tell the truth of the situation and be child focused. It doesn't matter what you may want it is what you think is best for DC.
Karma has given you very good advice.
I'm rather surprised that you have advised the op to go to mediation with a view to offering some form of direct contact.
Are you unaware that with regard to gp's who have had no contact at all giving them a starting point of some contact could actually give them an ability to have one of the grounds the court would require of them to make a contact order should the arrangement break down and they do end up in court.
A gp who has never had contact is highly unlikely to be awarded any,one who has had routine and regular contact (in the absence of abuse to the dc) is more likely to have it court ordered should the arrangement break down.
Do i have to advise cafcass of my partners history with his mum being as thats why we dont talk to her. It just feel its strange saying that its in my sons best interest if they dont know the reasons why?
Im so confused and sorry for going on its just i dont want to get this wrong!
I don't think you have to go into that much detail at this stage OP. Explaining that your partner has not had contact with his mum for x years should be enough but they will ask you the questions they feel are relevent. Must be hard on you all.
I personally told CAFCASS everything as they need to write a report to the court to recommend next steps. You don't need to if you don't want but I didn't feel like they could make a meaningful recommendation without all the facts. They did however choose to ignore all the background and thought mediation with a view to direct contact would be appropriate, even when our barrister pointed out what sock does above, which is that we had no need to offer direct contact and it would probably work against us in the long run.
When is your court date? Happy for you to PM if you need support/someone to chat to.
I'd say the way she treated your partner is material to why you don't want her in your son's life, so I would have thought it would be a good idea to disclose this.
Before the call I would suggest writing down all the points you want to get across (bullet point reminders).
The key thing is that this is about your child's rights, not hers. Is it in your son's best interests to have a relationship with this person? You need to keep this in mind throughout.
Thanks again karma! I dont mind telling them everything as i would rather they know. We are attending on 27th and its really taking its toll! I am stressing so much I could cry as think about it.
I have wrote everything down to ensure i dont forget anything.
Thanks for all your advise!
Had a letter yesterday from cafcass saying that the court date has been rearranged as the time scale to complete paperwork is too short.
they are calling me on 10th december and court date is tbc.
I am absolutely dreading the phone call with Cafcass tomorrow! I am just worried that i will forget everything i need to say!
How did the call from Cafcass go yesterday? Hope it was ok.
The woman was nice but didnt seem very interested. She just asked if we opposed the application which we do and some safeguarding questions like is there domestic violence etc.
she said next week we have to present case to judge and go from there.
It must be be very stressful for you. I had this off my mother about five years ago a couple of weeks after giving birth. I had no contact with her for a very long time and never will. We just ignored her in the end she has no rights. I would no be surprised if she tried again though. Your dh stopped contact for a very good reason I'm sure. My dh has never met her so how could he judge her to be a positive influence? I would not allow any contact at all and stick with that decision.
Yes we are both sure that we do not want her to have any contact. Were just dreading court
I am not surprised. Just the thought of my mother having contact made me feel sick. If you object totally I really cannot see how they can force contact. She is not a parent and has no established relationship. I looked into alot when it happened to me and I think the threat of court was a way of them getting me to come to an agreement. They are not going to sent you to prision for refusing!
My mother has mh issues which are very serious along with a history of domestic abuse both physical and emotional. No court would allow contact at the risk of a child coming to harm especially if the parents informed them of this. Did your partner experience this?
She had already interfered with a previous relationship of his and ruined it and also as a child she used to have so many men round the house. He got bullied at school because of this and therefore almost got expelled.
she tried to split us up when we got together but fortunatly we were stronger and it didnt work. We cut all ties.
My other half doesnt even call her mum and gets emotionally upset just thinking of what could happen.
Given that she should not have contact as it is emotionally distressing for him, as it was for me. I think they do it for control and not in the interest of the child. Can she actually afford to take it to court?
Yes,she sold her house a few years back and retired so has her pension. I really think she is doing it because she wants to get back into my other halfs life and cause trouble also because we told her no!
We will do everything we have to and if it means moving away we have considered that too.
I can understand that feeling. She may back down when she realises the huge cost. We have since moved house and its good to know she doesnt know where we are. She contacted my work a few times to let me know she is dying (she has been for years) and got her friend to write to me. Ignore everything. Are other family members around?
Yes we have a very strong relationship with other members of the families mine and his but just not her. I doubt she will back down even though I wish she would
Just wanting to wish you luck OP.
Luckz666 i just wondered how you are getting on with this as i am going through something similar x
After attending court the decision was made to allow her to make an application to the court for contact,even though the cafcass report stated it may cause emotional upset to our sin which we are shocked by.
Since then she has been telling people that she has won the case and has contact in a centre every 6 weeks.
Is there anything we can do to stop her from telling rubbish?
Cafcass now have to complete a section 7 report.
What is this?
She will look pretty silly if she does not get contact. I suspect she thinks that having won the right to apply for contact means she will automatically get it. She is wrong.
A section 7 report is a detailed report about your children's welfare.
She sounds terrible
I cannot imagine any court granting contact as it would not be in your DS's interest
How stressful for you. She sounds like she wants to control you all
She goes to the local social club we have used for years and so so my parents. She sits there and cries for attention so people feel sorry for her,yet when we arnt there shes dancing and laughing. Its all so false and shes making out were the bad ones.
Im concerned that shes lying like thus as its not right!
What does the section 7 report include,whats the process?
Just had a call from cafcass to arrange a section 7 report. She told me we need to attend an appointment at her office and would need to bring our son and speak to myself and my partner separatly for an hour each.
What type of things do they ask and why do we need to take our son?
Im dreading it!
Does anyone know what a cafcass section 7 report involves?
We have to take my son to their offices be interviewed for an hour on my own then my other half on his own for an hour.
They also want to meet our son.
Im terrified of this!
CAFCASS will report on the welfare of your son and make recommendations based on what they believe to be his best interests. They will recommend whether or not contact should take place and, if so, the amount and kind of contact. The judge does not have to follow the CAFCASS recommendations.
I am amazed that despite you having had no contact for 12 years they have granted her leave to apply for contact. That must be very hard for you and I would tell them everything for the section 7 report.
Yes we will tell the cafcass officer everything.
The judge said that even though there is conflict between us and her it shouldnt prevent her from applying.
Thing is she is now telling people we know that she has been granted contact and gets to see our son via a contact centre.
Its frightening what shes doing!
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