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Being taken to court over grandparent rights

(23 Posts)
Yoshie Sun 07-Aug-11 20:49:10

Back story: xh (well h at the time) died 2 years ago, and mil agreed to be civil with ds after a long lengthly court battle with xh at the time over recognising his son has food allergies
All was fine until earlier this year were several issues have arisen, my ds has been given an overdose of his hayfever asthma medication. has been told his mummy is lying about his current problems and that I am a bad person. She reported me to ss stating I am lying about ds's conditions and I am now under investigation for fabricating ds's illnesses made more complicated due to medical people losing notes etc.
I got home this morning to a lawyers letter stating that unless I grant her access to her grandson (whom she has zero relationship with, neglects, ignores and damn right is awful to in my opinion) I will be dragged back into court. The access she is demanding means that my son will no longer be allowed to attend any activities at the weekend either from friends at school, school activities, swimming lessons and there is not a damn thing I can do because she has torn my family apart, this woman has screamed at me in the street, forced her way into my house, my mother is beside herself crying believing that this time ds will go with her because mil will stop at nothing until she has full custody of ds (lying all the way) I haven't got enough money to fight this through the courts I have some and am using it to get legal advice but right now i feel like its countdown till ds goes away. I cant fight everything at once while holding down a full time job, I should be enjoying MY son not spending my time picking up the pieces of HER mess
I dont expect advice or sympathy just really need to write it down sorry its long

Meow75 Sun 07-Aug-11 20:51:42

Don't grandparents actually have no rights within the law?!?

Tell her to shove her solicitor's letter up her arse!!!!

Yoshie Sun 07-Aug-11 20:53:44

Sadly not, she rightly so has a right due to her being an important person within ds's life (I would debate this but in the laws eyes its different) , the lawyers letter is disgusting crap using the word contact as if she is his mother (she already admitted to me she believe she is when he is with her ) and as anyone can get into a court of law to agree it is there I will need to fight her

TheMagnificentBathykolpian Sun 07-Aug-11 20:55:09

Get a solicitor!

I suppose moving to the other end of the country is out of the question...

miniwedge Sun 07-Aug-11 20:59:04

She has to apply for permission to make an application for access.

It's a lengthy process and will be very very costly for her. Does she have access to funds?

Sit down and write yourself a factual timeline, ie ds was born on x date, mil had x amount of contact. Issue x occurred on x date.

You need to do this to get facts straight in your own mind as you will need to be clear on events and timelines if it did get to court.

At this stage all you really need to do is write to her solicitor and state that at present you do not feel that contact will be beneficial to your son. You don't need to expAnd on that. Keep the letter very matter of fact, no emotion.

You can then get legal advice as well as get any medical evidence together etc that you feel would be useful.

Yoshie Sun 07-Aug-11 20:59:10

No I want to move believe me after all of this the other side of the country isnt good enough! but I can't if she gets a contact order as my lawyer says it will cost me 20k to get free of her, money I don't have and tbh I don't have it in me anymore , I know that sounds awful but to stand back and watch your child in pain and discomfort knowing she did this, but you are powerless to stop to add to this the ss investigation which has been so heavy handed and I am apprently guiltly till proved innocent where they are concerned I am done

miniwedge Sun 07-Aug-11 21:03:09

Actually you can move even if she gets a contact order. You can move anywhere within the jurisdiction of the court as long as you make the child available for contact at the designated times. The person who wants that contact is expected to arrange their own travel.

And just to reiterate, she has no rights. The child has rights, she has to apply for permission to make an application for contact.

gillybean2 Sun 07-Aug-11 22:19:46

How old is your ds? What does he feel about all this? - you mention school so I assume he is old enough to have some awareness and opinion

You don't need a solicitor to go to family court. You can represent yourself and ask the court to have the assistance of a McKenzie's friend with you if you wish. If you do decide to use a McKenzie's friend please find one who has a good track record and who is reliable. Or you can ask a friend to be your McK and they will come to court to support you and take notes etc.

How much contact is MIL asking for if your ds is going to loose all his weekends and after school activities? Remind your MIL that contact is for the beneft of ds and shouldn't impede on every other part of his life. A non resident parent could expect to be given contact of every other weekend and half the holidays. Presumably if your ex was still here he would arrange to take ds to see MIL during some of this time, but it is unlikely he would share it 100% with her (unless they live in the same house, and even then he'd take ds out without MIL sometimes). So how much was she seeing ds before?

Your ds does have a right to contact with his extended family, so MIL does have a case to go to court. Think really hard before you write a letter saying you are refusing all contact as that will be used against you in court. Think about what contact you may be willing to offer and why...

Are you prepared to offer contact at a contact centre to the MIL at this point? Google for ones near to you, they tend to have long waiting lists so you/she would have to expect a delay. If not what about offering to send photos and write an update on his progress every 6 or 12 months for her.

The lawyer's letter from MIL will be heavy handed and is designed to make you panic. Keep it to show the judge just what you are being subjected too. Be prepared for her to argue she has no choice given that you are withhold all contact.

Do you have any evidence that she is trying to undermind you as ds's mother and is trying to get custody? Do you have any evidence that she ignores, neglects and is downright awful to your ds? You say it is your opinion, would anyone else hold that opinion on the evidence you hold? Contact os for the benefot of ds, of you have evidence that she is neglecting him or is causing him emotional harm when she has contact then you need to gather as much evidence as you can of that.

Keep a diary of events and copies of all communication. If you have a conversation which needs noting then write down exactly what happened etc. Keep texts and emails. Record any contact if you are there. You don't have to tell her you are doing this. It is legal to do so as long as one of the parties is aware (ie you)

You might want to post in the legal section for more advice on court, your options and what you need to know and do. Please don't panic. Court takes a long time to get anywhere, especially if you are unwilling to allow contact. They will want to see progress, so offering a contact centre may be the place to start. Staff will supervise the contact and report to the court.

MeMySonAndI Mon 08-Aug-11 01:58:31

Don't panic. You have far more rights than her, if she gets contact it would be very limited.

notsorted Mon 08-Aug-11 10:01:34

One good thing is that you have your mother - she has rights as a grandparent too. If you can get her onboard re see DS at weekends, perhaps taking him to the odd swimming class/party or whatever then the grandparents rights are divided between them?
Not quite sure how that would be seen by the court, but DS does have rights to see extended family and his time is not infinite so she would be just one person in the queue.

Yoshie Mon 08-Aug-11 19:59:27

Thanks for all the replies, I feel slightly better today think it was the shock she would stoop so low on this after promising the night her son was dying it would never come to this again.

The reason it has is because ds has swimming lessons at the weekend and she is refusing to allow it because she is number one in his life over me (his mum) his school everything. I have been nice and offered different alternatives but she refuses it. ds is also to not attend anything on her second weekend this now includes holidays with me sad

ds has been asking for football lessons too, but I cant agree to that right now because she will go mad (she isnt the most rational of people)

The reasons I have concerns over contact is because she is withholding his prescription based medication from him (food, asthma, hayfever) while he was i her care (5 days)

raspberryroop Mon 08-Aug-11 20:23:25

Yoshie - honestly - get him football lessons - let her go mad and document it !

Dont let her control your choices or those of your son - she would have very limited rights even if she won a court case unless you really are an unfit mother and she can prove it !

Read the advice above and represent yourself unless you are entitled to legal aid - keep everything as evidance. Offer very limited contact at a contact center which she should pay for and also note to her solicitor why ie the medication etc ie once every 2 months for 2 hours . If she refuses this as a start the she will be seen as beig ureasonable. She is a grandparent not parent and whatever she says that is the way court will see it !

MeMySonAndI Mon 08-Aug-11 20:35:18

keep note/emails where you have offered contact which she has refused, she may even be asked to pay costs.

niceguy2 Tue 09-Aug-11 01:12:34

I started writing a reply then realised that GB's post is spot on and much more eloquent than i could say. I strongly advise following GB's advice.

TheFrogs Tue 09-Aug-11 01:51:31

She didn't allow your asthmatic child access to his medication for five days? Are we talking inhaler/s here? shock. Do you have proof of that?

She sounds bloody awful.

MeMySonAndI Tue 09-Aug-11 20:37:04

I know someone who was accused of fabricating the allergies... You have no idea how bad it backfired to the accuser... to make those allegations she has to have proof and the fact that your child is getting prescribed medication is enough for you to demonstrate that.

Finallygotaroundtoit Tue 09-Aug-11 20:46:14

AFAIK a solicitor's letter means diddly squat.

It is simply words on a letter headed piece of paper which may just be a 'wish list' dictated to the Solicitor.

chelen Tue 09-Aug-11 20:48:06

If she withheld medication you need to stop the contact. That is dangerous. What has your solicitor advised with regard to that?

I know you feel you can't fight but I think you really might have to. She is only a grandparent, she is not a parent.

Good luck, it sounds really tough

MeMySonAndI Tue 09-Aug-11 21:40:12

Never withheld contact, it may you look BAD in court, instead, offer contact but adapt it to ensure your child welfare is protected: Short contact

It is not necessary for contact with relatives to mean over night contact, a couple of hours at a play centre will do, and you can stay and remain unobstrusive to keep an eye on her in case medication is needed.

ImperialBlether Wed 10-Aug-11 10:16:35

I think that if she is withholding his medication, you have every right to insist contact takes place within a contact centre.

JustForThisOne Wed 10-Aug-11 11:42:38

sounds like this woman has not dealt properly with the loss of her son (on top of being a space cadet) is there any member of her family that could help her to put things into perspective, get professional help? Change of strategy as oh poor granny needs help cause she is obviously loosing the plot kind of thing
Plus all the other measure other poster have suggested

CheeseandGherkins Wed 10-Aug-11 12:11:40

I doubt she'd get access every other weekend, she isn't a parent. Do what you need to with your child and let her "go mad". How does that affect you? Do not let her have unsupervised contact if she is withholding medication. Book football lessons etc for the weekends if that's what he wants. I think you're worrying far too much. She sounds unhinged and as long as you stay calm in court then people like that are usually seen for what they are. You don't have to spend lots of money you can self represent.

The court process is lengthy. Don't let her ruin your life, just get on with it and if necessary insist on written contact so you have evidence of everything. Just don't answer the door/phone to her.

Personally I'd also call social services and let them know what happened while your child was in her care. I did this with my dcs after they told me they were physically and mentally abused by their father and SS advised cutting contact. I did so and the court did not look badly on it at all.

Yoshie Wed 10-Aug-11 20:33:41

What I have been done is write to her to say ds is very tired just now and needs a break and to spend time at home in the run up to starting school at the end of the month.

I spoke to ss who also advised cutting contact but well clearly she also had the same idea because she made a complaint to them stating I am mentally unwell and have invented the childs medication conditions so I am now being investigated as part of a child protection investigation.

Before the 5 day trip I had my doubts about him seeing her so often and had negotiated steps for my sil to take ds instead but she over ruled it and obviously gran is sil's mother so she is siding with her mum.

I haven't booked football lessons for ds but that is because OT recommended dance instead so I am in the process of sorting dance and drama for him on a Saturday and Sunday he has church and swimming.

I have no problem with her seeing ds (prior to the medication incident) just felt as he is going to school he should get to do what his friends do etc and if he wants to go to a party or play a sport or anything really he should get that chance, she believes that should all come second to her including me and she has told me in the past when ds is with her she is his mother (scary)

I haven't replied to her letter yet as I spent mine withdrawing contact temporarily to her at the same time clearly and I have been busy ignoring it tbh. I just want her to leave us alone and stop all this nonsense that she seems fit to do.

She couldn't take him to any lessons etc as she would either be late or not turn up at all and the excuses would range from sleeping in to getting lost.

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