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Grandparent access rights

(8 Posts)
hooha55 Mon 16-Feb-15 16:34:13

My mother in law has borderline personality disorder, she is undiagnosed as she refuses to see she has a problem, but she absolutely fits the description. This has been confirmed by a psychotherapist that my DH and I saw together to try to work out how to handle her.

I'm pregnant with my first baby and am very concerned about her behaviour. She has been verbally abusive to us in the past and made all sorts of threats around our wedding. She is incapable of following rules and boundaries regarding grandchildren e.g. she took her 5 year old granddaughter to the theatre and left her on her own during the entire interval so that she could go and get herself a drink - this despite being asked by BIL and SIL never to leave her unsupervised. She also left same granddaughter outside in the garden crying as a baby whilst she was meant to be looking after her (SIL found her in the garden screaming when she came to collect her), again this despite the fact she was asked not to leave her unsupervised. She regularly picks fights with both her sons and is generally emotionally out of control - not someone you would want babysitting your child - but she is also very pushy about wanting to see her grandchildren, wanting to have them over to stay and wanting to take them out on their own.

I'm not looking to stop access at all, but would only ever be comfortable with occasional short supervised visits. Does she have the right to demand any more than that? We go through phases of no/ very low contact with her when she is being particularly unpleasant - what would be the repercussions if we did this with grandchildren involved?

It might seem a bit mad that I'm thinking about this now, but I know that she is going to ramp up the crazy behaviour and I want all my ducks in a row.

seoladair Mon 16-Feb-15 16:43:44

Sending great sympathy to you.
To put your mind at rest, afaik she has no legal right of access while your child has one or both parents living.

I recommend you and DH make a will and think very carefully about guardians.

This is a bit morbid but it's an important point. Imagine an accident in which both parents die simultaneously .
If you have not appointed guardians, (or if they are unwilling to take on the responsibility), then the younger of the two of you is deemed to have outlived the other spouse and the child would be sent to a relative of the younger parent. I think the legal term regarding the age thing is commorienties - but google it!

That I think is the only scenario in which there would be a risk that she would have legal access.


I am not a lawyer so do get this checked out.

seoladair Mon 16-Feb-15 16:46:07

My auto-correct is getting very upset with this word but it has finally let me spell it the way I think it is spelt!

prh47bridge Mon 16-Feb-15 17:35:21

In the absence of a court order you can do what you want. She can demand more as much as she wants but you can refuse. If she wants to force the issue she would have to apply to the courts for contact.

Grandparents do not have any automatic right to apply for contact. They must first apply to the courts for permission to apply for contact.

seoladair Mon 16-Feb-15 17:57:53

More info here...

hooha55 Mon 16-Feb-15 18:20:01

Thanks for replying seoladair and prh47bridge.

I'm just not clear on permission to apply for contact orders - do grandchildren need to have a pre-existing close relationship with GP's for it to be successful?

I'm also wondering whether it can be used to gain more regular access in cases where a GP already has access. For example if they already had access every few weeks or so, could they then demand more access this way?

I appreciate I'm answering detailed questions and totally understand if it's not something that can be answered here! As you can probably guess I'm pretty anxious about my MIL having seen her behaviour towards BIL and SIL in the past.

sybilwibble Tue 17-Feb-15 00:39:30

You have no obligation whatsoever to build a relationship between your child and MIL if you do not want to and and no court will force you to do so. If as you say you feel that your child would not be safe left alone with your MIL you should not leave your dc with her (or anyone else you feel would not safeguard them in the manner you would wish them to be looked after.)

Just don't. You do not have to. Just visit as a family when you and or dh are are also present and don't give in to a nagging or bullying MIL to leave your child alone with her if you do't trust her to look after your baby. Just don't.

tracyreader Tue 17-Feb-15 16:33:50

I suggest documenting all the cases of her behaviour when she's emotionally out-of-control, particularly if you can get independent evidence of said behaviour. So if she does wind up taking you to court, you can support why you don't let her have unsupervised access.

I'd also document the times that you do have short supervised visits, to make it clear that you aren't cutting her off from all contact with her grandchildren. You want to give a court as much evidence as possible to believe you, just in case she starts lying her head off.

As for just dealing with very pushy, demanding relatives, there's a lot on the Internet about resisting such demands, the general advice is Do Not JADE (Justify, Argue, Defend, or Explain). A search for that should turn up lots of sources.

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