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Grandparents rights in the UK

(72 Posts)
maybeillkeepthisname Sun 01-Sep-19 01:44:18


I'm a long time user but I've NC as I'm aware my sil is on here :-)

I just saw grandparents rights mentioned on another thread and it was commented that a lot of people think gps have none but court cases usually end in contact? I wondered how true this is?

My sister has a 9 week old baby and has low contact with her ILs. Before baby came she saw them maybe once every three months (they live about an hour away) and now she has been seeing them maybe once every few weeks? Her husband (my bil) speaks to his father via text every few days but bil says that they never discuss anything of relevance so his family rarely know what is going on in their lives.

They are lc as bils family are very much 'for show' but no real interest in them as a family and over the years my sister has really struggled with her mil. DS has confided in me for all of this (we are talking 10 years) of snide comments, excluding DS from their family etc. Her mil almost ruined their wedding and acted shockingly badly on the day. As far as I can see (from what I have been told and witnessed) the mother does not accept my sister at all.

When my nephew came along the ILs also completely disregarded DS, throwing a tantrum that they couldn't meet DN the day he was born (both mum and baby were very poorly and everyone was asked to wait as at first DS was not fully conscious and her and bil were told DN may have suffered birth injuries). Thank god DN is the picture of health :-)

Anyway long story short my sister is really trying post birth to build bridges with her ILs and sort things out but she seems to be coming up against hurdles from them all the time. This last week mil has been openly homophobic in front of DS (made worse by the fact our brother is openly gay which mil knows and we love and support him).

DS and BIL came round tonight and we were discussing the whole thing. They have decided to slowly phase the ILs out even more and drop down their visits. BIL has said he knows this will cause a fuss but he is not worried. But they said the MIL has already said before baby was born about her grandparental rights and how she wants to see baby every week. I am concerned they are both being very naive.

So I'm asking if anyone has any experience of rights for grandparents and how likely it is they'd be granted access to my DN. Baring in mind he is so young I can't see how they could prove they have a prior relationship with him?

My sister is reading these comments with me so please don't tell me to mind my own business as she knows i posted and is interested in people's experiences :-)

Sorry if this is confusing or too long! I also have a 10 week old baby so tiredness is definitely getting to us both 😂

TurOlive Mon 25-Nov-19 19:42:03

I hate mothers that keep children away from grandparents. It is just utterly? Utterly selfish

Under any circumstances? What if the grandparents are abusive?

angell84 Mon 25-Nov-19 17:26:38

I hate mothers that keep children away from grandparents. It is just utterly? Utterly selfish.

As I said - I was kept away from my grandmother for 16 years. And we loved each other. We lost a whole life together. When I tracked her down , and we stood in her kitchen. She held me in her arms, we were both roaring crying and she told me, "I never forgot you".

I shouldn't have had to do that. Don't put your children through that.

My granny died not long after we were reunited, so it was a whole, wasted life. I can never get back.

Think before you act

SnowsInWater Sun 24-Nov-19 21:38:14

I've mediated a few cases between grandparents wanting contact with their grandchildren and the children's parents. I hate those cases tbh as they inevitably end up with the parents offering token contact to stop the grandparents going to Court, but you know it will never happen. Lots and lots of hurt and sadness. Basically what the families really needed was some kind of family therapy rather than mediation but they were never up for that.

Bibijayne Sun 24-Nov-19 19:33:57

If your sister and BIL are together and happy with this, then the courts cannot do anything. Especially as the baby is so young.

Tell them to carry on with their plans. MIL can do as she wishes, if she talks to a solicitor they will say much the same.

Butterymuffin Sun 24-Nov-19 14:16:08

@angell84 I'm sorry that your mother was nasty to you. But you are massively projecting your own situation onto all others. Most mothers aren't like this - it's far more common that mothers sacrifice their own comfort and put up with all kinds of shit from extended family because they feel they shouldn't make a fuss.

OP, a lot of grandparents who say this are all talk and it becomes a different matter once they realise that a) court takes time, trouble and money and b) their own behaviour will be scrutinised, not just yours. Let them make threats. You just keep on your own path.

MulticolourMophead Sun 24-Nov-19 14:09:10

It wasn't legalised in their time. They grew up in an era when it was criminalized. I think that I would have a little understanding of the era that they grew up in, and that it takes time to change an opinion.

You are being very patronising to older people. It may have been criminalized in their era. But that doesn't mean that all people from that era were homophobes, or that they aren't able to adapt their opinions.

You are simply trying to justify having a relationship with grandparents at all costs, simply because they are grandparents.

Newsflash, nasty people don't magically turn into nice grandparents just because their own children became parents, you know. Too many people try to justify shit behaviour with "because, Family". Being related is not a get out of jail free card.

GnomeDePlume Sun 24-Nov-19 13:51:35

Having a relationship with GPs is fine if it works for everyone. On the whole it isnt a necessary relationship. I grew up with only seeing GPs every few years (geography). So far as I am aware my life wasnt impacted by this, it was just my normal. Other people see GPs frequently and that is their normal.

angell84 Sun 24-Nov-19 13:49:06

@ILoveYou3000 so do you hate the government then?

Because they made homophobia acceptable for hundreds of years.

Do you hate the country that we live in?

Because it made homophobia acceptable for hundreds of years.

Same sex marriage has only been allowed for 15 years.

The government said to people:
'Homosexuality is illegal and terrible and bad and outlawed.'
It was condemned by the GOVERNMENT. People were told to think this.

And then the government tells people:
"Oh wait Homosexuality Is legal and acceptable and fine."

How can you not expect people to be confused. It used to be illegal.

The government has alot of power in telling people what they should and should not think.

Anyway I am accepting of people who are still afraid of homosexuality. If you are not - that's your deal

ILoveYou3000 Sun 24-Nov-19 13:09:05

It wasn't legalised in their time. They grew up in an era when it was criminalized. I think that I would have a little understanding of the era that they grew up in, and that it takes time to change an opinion.

You're assuming the grandparents are elderly. They could be in their 40s. And homophobia is never acceptable. Age is no excuse for bigotry.

angell84 Sun 24-Nov-19 12:45:57

@semperidem. Of course I know that.

As a society we have advanced , which is amazing.

But I know the fear that was beat into some people's heads, about homosexuality. And I know that can be hard to change.

Even my gay best friend told me that he doesn't particularly care about homophobic slurs , he knows it takes time for society to change. He has so happy in his own life, and he is getting married next month.

SemperIdem Sun 24-Nov-19 12:41:59

@angell84 you realise gay people existed in this era too, alongside the homophobes? They didn’t all arrive filled firmed adults across multiple generations in 2013. The more right thinking members of society who managed to not be homophobic, despite being “told” homosexuality was wrong lived in “that era” too. Straw man argument.

angell84 Sun 24-Nov-19 12:40:31

@thatssomebadatharry. Eh how is it an argument?

I am explaining that of my two best friends:

My longest two best friends,

One is gay
One is homophobic.

And I accept the second friend because I know how he was brought up.

ThatssomebadhatHarry Sun 24-Nov-19 12:35:23

One of my best friends is gay.

Really, this argument as well?

angell84 Sun 24-Nov-19 12:32:24

Personally, I absolutely love seeing same sex people have the same rights and equality.

One of my best friends is gay.

And one of my other best friends is what you could call a little "homophobic". He woukd never say anything to a gay person, but he is a bit scared of the whole idea , because he was brought up in a very traditional area. I am still friends with him. He is a lovely person

angell84 Sun 24-Nov-19 12:28:37


Same sex marriage was legalised in the U.K in 2013.

So everyone in the U.K was told that gay marriage was immoral and illegal for a long, long time.

You grew up in this era, they grew up in that one, I think not having an understanding gor a different era - is a bit small minded.

Steps in equality for same sex relationships is only a very, very recent thing.

ThatssomebadhatHarry Sun 24-Nov-19 12:24:17


So parents keeping out homophobic people from their children’s lives is abuse their power as parents. Heard it all now.

The ‘different era’ argument is a pathetic way to justify someone’s behaviour. My own in laws don’t have a hint of homophobia neither does my 94year old grandmother. My other grandmother always found racism the most appalling thing as she had seen so much suffering in her life. Yet was brought up in a time when this was an accepted viewpoint.

angell84 Sun 24-Nov-19 12:10:42

@thatssomebadhatharry. God almighty. Why does it matter if she is homophobic. Gay marriage has been legalised in our time.

It wasn't legalised in their time. They grew up in an era when it was criminalized. I think that I would have a little understanding of the era that they grew up in, and that it takes time to change an opinion.

Can any mothers on here look at this honestly:

Do you think that mothers have too much power in this society. And that they abuse that power?

I am a woman, and I can see this as clear as day.

ThatssomebadhatHarry Sun 24-Nov-19 12:03:54

There have been cases where parents split and grandparents have fought for access to keep an already established relationship, even then it’s not a guarantee. This is not the same situation as your friend.

They get to decide what is best for their children. Removing a toxic homophobic grandmother who hates her grandchildren’s mother is in the best interests of that child.

angell84 Sun 24-Nov-19 11:52:15

@ladymacbeth you can say "the needs of the child are paramount".

But as right now, they are not.

There are huge problems with mothers restricting access from fathers and grandparents. And ultimately the CHILD being hurt.

That is why we have so many people campaigning for father's rights and grandparent's rights today.

The whole system needs an overhaul. Mothers are hurting so many people.

LadyMacbethWasMisunderstood Sun 24-Nov-19 11:49:02

A grandparent does not have an automatic right to apply to the Court for a child arrangements order (unless the child has lived with them for 2 years).

A grandparent (or indeed another friend or relative) can apply to the Court for leave to apply for an order. This is the ‘filter’ as it were to weed out applications without any merit.

All applications are fact specific. But save for situations where the grandparents have previously been very involved with a child and THE CHILD will be feeling the loss of the relationship (the needs of the child is the focus not the needs of the adult) even if any order is.made it would be for a very limited and low level (identity contact so the child knows who it’s grandparents are). Typically an order for Christmas / birthday presents and possibly the occasional visit (though even that would be highly unusual where there is not an existing relationship).

angell84 Sun 24-Nov-19 11:38:49

What I think is very sad,

Is that the mother ultimately decides who is bad, who is not worthy, who is okay to be around the child.

The mother pushes her own views onto the child. She doesn't see the child as a seperate entity.

"I don't like my mother in law, so I will not let my child see my mother in law"

The mother says how bad everyone else is, when she is often far from perfect herself.

I feel very strongly and sad about this. From my own story and other stories hat I have heard.

My mother stopped me seeing my grandmother, my father's mother. My grandmother was incredibly kind to me. My mother was angry and nasty to me. She liked the power and control. She enjoyed hurting ny granny and expressing her power

She moved us to a different country. She stopped me seeing her until I was 18.

I will never forget the journey when I was 18 and I travelled to another country to see my grandmother. (Not telling my mother I was going,)z .

We both collapsed into each other's arms and cried and cried and cried. She told me "I never forgot you".

And "my love for you is bigger than anything that she could do".

But I lost all of those precious years with her

Isleepinahedgefund Fri 15-Nov-19 11:43:36

I think all you can do is proceed how you see fit (ie not seeing the in laws) and then see what comes of it Respond to any court papers you get - but I bet they don’t bother. Concentrate on what’s best for your child, which includes NOT seeing you being treated like crap.

I keep my parents at arms length because they aren’t very nice to me - part of it is not wanting to subject myself to them and part of it is to protect my DD from seeing me being treated like that. However she sees them once a week and they really are very good to her, she loves them dearly and I wouldn’t take that relationship away from any of them.

Facilitating this is very easy for me though as they only live up the road so they collect her from school and drop her off when I’m home from work which takes 2 mins and so there’s no opportunity for them to start on me. I guess if they live an hour away it would be much harder in this situation as you’d have to be fully involved in the visits. If I had to be more involved I wouldn’t.

Screwtheclockchange Fri 15-Nov-19 11:04:04

"A strong, healthy relationship with a parent or caregiver is vital to a child's wellbeing - a necessity. Grandparents are an agreeable luxury."

Yup. A loving, healthy relationship with a grandparent is a wonderful thing. I miss my grandmother every day and I'm very grateful for the time I had with her. But a child with a stable, loving relationship with their main caregiver isn't going to be damaged by the absence of grandparents. I know plenty of people who didn't have any living grandparents left by the time they were born. It's a shame and they'd have liked to have met their grandparents, but I doubt any of them would say that they'd missed out on something fundamental to their emotional health.

CheshireChat Fri 15-Nov-19 09:56:54

He can track them down if he likes, he's not my property and he can make up his own mind. At that point however he'll be an adult and hopefully mature enough.

We didn't just have a minor disagreement though- they wanted to ultimately foster DS as they wanted to be paid for it hmm so funnily enough I want nothing to do with them and made sure there was no way they could approach DS.

I don't feel the same way about the entire extended family btw, regardless of whether I personally like them or not.

mbosnz Fri 15-Nov-19 09:36:17

@mbosnz at least you let your girls make their own decison

Yes - because there was sufficient geographical distance that he could no longer inflict damage on us. And he'd done it so often in so many ways that we could see him coming and going and protect ourselves from it. But that man brought our marriage as close to break up as anything ever has, and was a major part in another marital break up in the family. That was detrimental to the children involved, for sure.

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