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Hope For Estranged Grandparents

(923 Posts)
worthitall Tue 16-Jun-20 16:30:44

I’ve read some posts where people feel it is not worth the fight to see their grandchildren and others which suggest grandparents don’t have such rights - which is correct.

The fact in such matters though is that the rights belong to the children, including rights to see their grandparents unless there is a very good reason why not - and that Is where most arguments lay and a compelling and realistic case has to be made to support 'why not'?

How am I so sure? The Family Court has given me permission to see my grandchildren on a regular basis. Cafcass had no objections to, nor hesitation in recommending, access and the court was able to see that the cutting off of contact was not about the children but about the parent.

The court has enabled me to restart the lovely relationship I always had with my grandchildren.

Do not be afraid to go to court if it is the only way you can speak to your grandchildren. You have nothing to lose and everything to gain.

Good luck

Smileless2012 Thu 18-Jun-20 09:44:04

That's an awful worry for you to have to live with Ironflowerflowers.

As you say "Grandparents rights are certainly a good thing in some cases" but not where abusive behaviour is a factor. This is why it's important to differentiate between GP's who have a healthy relationship with their GC that the children benefit from, and GP's whose relationship with their GC would be damaging to the children.

Starblaze Thu 18-Jun-20 10:02:15

It's the proverbial wolf in sheep's clothing. Mum's like mine make very convincing sheep. The courts aren't always able to spot the difference. So making cases like this too easy would be bad for parents like me and Ironflower. Especially if the parents aren't able to pay for representation.

Nonnie Thu 18-Jun-20 10:36:26

starblaze that all sounds horrible and must have affected how you feel, it would me. I am assuming you work in some area of child protection so would see the worst cases. I don't think that means all cases of cutting off are about abuse but probably all the ones you have to deal with are in some way.

The case I know of had nothing to do with child protection it was all about adults falling out so I cannot see why that should have a negative affect on the children if all the adults behave in a child appropriate way.

"Why ever add more stress and difficulty to any child's life if you believe they are already suffering." that is a very good point if they are suffering for whatever reason but what if they are suffering from losing a loving relationship? Should you continue to let them suffer or do something about it?

If we assume that a case has nothing to do with damaging the children, just an adult issue, what should a GP do when a loving relationship has been broken because a parent fell out with a grandparent? I come back to they have to make a decision about what is best for the child/children and let the court decide. Whatever the court decides all the adults should endeavour to make it work.

It is not as simple as one rule fits all, it is different in different cases which is why we have family courts.

Starblaze Thu 18-Jun-20 11:09:45

Nonnie I don't have bias, I have a clear understanding of the terrible things that are out there and how prevalent it is.

I'm not going to flout myself as the "good person" in this drama but I offered for my mum to see my children, she said no because she wanted me there too and at the time I wasn't fully estranged and didn't want to see her. My AC later said they didn't want to see her anyway as she made them uncomfortable so I made the decision to estrange myself and my children with me.

What I am saying is not that good relationships should be broken. What I am saying is, if we make going to court easy, more abusive people are going to have access to minor children.

What I am saying is that if we make it too easy, more children are going to suffer from stress in the home whether that is financial, or stressed and worried parents who cannot protect them from abusive people or more abuse because the parent is angry that the other party won contact and takes it out on them.

There is not a court route that does not stress the children. If the child is in pain from losing a relationship with someone, they already went through that pain, now more pain and stress will be added on top.

As I have also previously stated, there are many many more abusive parents/grandparents than anyone wants to admit to.

Good grandparents/parents have a much better chance of gaining access to grandchildren by not going the court route. The court route is the end of the possibility of reconsiliation and the relationship being normal and natural for the children and contact being fun instead of forced.

I don't know how else to explain my position on this without you thinking I have bias just because I had an abusive parent.

I got bitten by a dog once, I don't have fear of dogs. I dealt with it and moved on. As I have with the fact I was sexually and emotionally abused as a child. Or do you think me broken and damaged goods? That sounds harsh but it is said calmly without anger.

Madgran77 Thu 18-Jun-20 12:02:27

AC who have been through these types of situations are screaming at the 'adults' "Just do not. Please stop." and yet are the 'adults' here "listening"?

I assume you mean the adults participating in this thread. Some of them are listening but they are disagreeing with a blanket statement that appears to say that all GPs who go to court are motivated by power and control. That is not "not listening", it is disagreeing with a generalisation that appears to be based on no measurable fact across ALL cases!

Going to court may well not be the best route for many many cases. I have knowledge of at least 2 where it was the best route, in the interests of the children, because of the motivations of the parents for refusing contact and the motivations of the GPs for requesting it through a court. I won't give any further details due to confidentiality issues but it is part of why I feel that generalisations are not helpful in these discussions

Smileless2012 Thu 18-Jun-20 12:04:31

I don't have personal experience of going to court to gain access to GC but from what I've read, and know from my brother who was a family solicitor and worked on these cases, that it is not an easy route. As far as I'm aware the success rate is low.

As has been said here already, it could be the final nail in the coffin of the GP's relationship with their AC if that's the route GP's choose to take.

It's also been said here that in all probability GP's have taken that into account, and not believing that a reconciliation will ever be a realistic possibility, feel they have no other choice.

It must be a frightening prospect for EAC who had an abusive childhood to even contemplate the possibility that those who abused them, could be allowed a relationship with their children who could then be at risk.

For GP's who have lost their children because of problems with their relationship with their AC, that too is a frightening and heart breaking prospect.

It is of course, not in the interests of a child to be forced into a relationship with GP's who have the potential to do them harm. It is not in the interests of a child to have the GP's they know and love, removed from their lives because of issues their parents have with their GP's.

When an abusive childhood is not an issue, it is as you've posted Nonnie and as I've already said, the responsibility of all the adults concerned to make it work.

The parents should not make their children feel guilty and uncomfortable for the time they spend with their GP's. They should not make their personal animosity toward their parents known to their children, which could make the children wary of seeing their GP's.

Likewise, the GP's should not allow their GC to be aware of any animosity they feel toward their AC; this is about the children.

Any GP going to court needs to prove they have an established relationship with their GC and it is the withdrawal of that relationship, a decision which the child has no say in, that is the issue here.

The courts require the parents and GP's to have mediation and it is at this initial stage that the need for the case to go to court can be avoided, if all concerned take a sensible and mature approach to the situation, putting the interests of the children above their own personal grievances.

If mediation fails to reach an agreement, GP's then have to apply to court for permission to take their case to court. If that is refused, the case never gets to court.

There are cases where the court has granted access to the GP's and the parents ensure the children are rarely, if ever available for that pre arranged time. GP's then have to go back to court in order to have the original order enforced.

A lot of unnecessary stress and upset can be avoided for all concerned but only if everyone works together for the benefit of the children.

Smileless2012 Thu 18-Jun-20 12:17:28

IMO generalisations derail these discussions Madgran.

It's important to listen to the opinions and concerns that abused EAC have on this subject and just as important to listen to the opinions and concerns of non abusive EGP's.

I think it was you Starblaze who posted that there are more abusive parents and GP's out there than we care to admit. I think that's true and I would add that there are non abusive parents and GP's out there, living with not just the loss of their AC but their GC too.

HolyHannah Thu 18-Jun-20 13:29:31

Madgran -- What part of what I am saying are you missing?

I have no issue with GP's rights in the circumstances for which they were originally designed -- For grand-parents who have lost/had contact restricted due to the divorce/death of their child (the minor children's parent).

What I do see as a controlling/manipulation is when GP's take a married couple to court who have decided together to remove the grand-parents from their lives.

Starblaze Thu 18-Jun-20 13:36:36

Smileless You don't need to add it to what I said, I already said it myself.

Madgran is the real issue here generalisations or small children?

HolyHannah Thu 18-Jun-20 13:54:55

Starblaze -- It's the old invalidation routine -- Because there are some 'good' grand-parents that have been 'unjustly' cut off therefore the benefit of the doubt should be given and therefore any grand-parent that claims to be 'good' should be granted access if they want it I guess.

There is agreement that there are more abusive parents out there then many would like to admit. So this is why it is important for all "adults" to put minor children first by not eroding parental autonomy.

If a child has a stable two-parent home, I highly question the motivation of any third party who insists they have a claim/right to the children and by extension their adult parents time regardless of how "good" that person may be for the child.

It's difficult to claim you are putting the children first when the action of taking good parents to court hurts the minor children.

Nonnie Thu 18-Jun-20 13:58:26

HolyHannah Sorry, I started to listen to that link but the language and the blaming baby boomers put me off and I didn't want to hear any more.

Madgran77 Wed 17-Jun-20 19:06:18 I agree although I don't agree with the assumption that it is the GPs who are doing it. I may have misunderstood but it could equally be the parent/s

HolyHannah Wed 17-Jun-20 19:32:19 so sorry you had such an awful time but that does not mean all children who are the subject of a court order are in the same situation. I'm trying to see this all from a wider perspective than individual cases.

"But yes, if adults tack on, "it's for the good of the kids" anything is fine right? So the damage done is of no consequence?" Surely it is up to the courts to decide what is best for the 'kids' and then act accordingly?

Please elaborate on your experience? Do you work in this area? My experience is only from what I have been told.

"If the family was healthy and now the legal system is getting involved, that will impact them home-life of the minor children" But the court would not intervene if it thought that everything was 'healthy' it would only intervene in the interests of the children.

I'm not going to go through all your posts and comment because we will never agree but I repeat that the Family Courts only have the children's welfare of interest. If any of the adults involve the children in the cases then they are damaging the child. If they can't cope with the court's decision that is their issue and not the child's. No one owns a child and if all adults put them first there would be far fewer cases.

Starblaze Thu 18-Jun-20 14:15:30

Nonnie I've seen court battles where one or both parties claim abuse go on for years. Years of damage and children being interviewed and observed. Supervised contact in contact centres that are highly unnatural. Years of paper work and fees and time lost that the parent could have spent with the children. I have also seen physically abusive parents awarded access to their children. In one case, a child forced to go when she witnessed her mother beaten and wet herself and was terrified of her Dad. I think perhaps you have the right expectations of courts but that's not the reality. Abusers are very good at hiding what they are and leaving no evidence. If they weren't they would have lost their children in childhood.

Nonnie Thu 18-Jun-20 14:15:49

Starblaze Wed 17-Jun-20 20:30:27 yes, and that is sad but not all cases take that long. I think in the clear cut cases when it is obvious that the parent/s is simply being vindictive it is a lot quicker, or it was in the case that I know about.

Madgran77 Wed 17-Jun-20 20:37:21 well said

Starblaze Wed 17-Jun-20 21:12:26 I can see that you know a lot of damaged people and that is very sad, however, it does not mean that all GPs have damaged or would damage. The cases you talk about are all adults, how different it might have been for them if they had had a lovely GP to talk to at the time? If a child is being abused that could be a reason a parent cuts off people who might find out.

OceanMama Wed 17-Jun-20 23:34:53 why is it always damaging? What makes you believe that all grandparents treat the children unevenly? Perhaps this is your personal experience and that makes me sad but please don't label all the same.

Ironflower Thu 18-Jun-20 01:13:23 that is the opposite of what happened in the case I am talking about, it was the parent who made unsubstantiated accusations. The GPs had a lot of evidence against the parent but didn't need to use it because the co

OceanMama Thu 18-Jun-20 01:35:39 Why should it be forced on them? Why do you assume the children don't want to see the GPs? How would that happen unless the parents had said bad things to them? Surely not? Agree the children will make up their own minds and quite possible that when they are adults the GPs will show them the evidence. Parents need to think about that.

Starblaze Thu 18-Jun-20 14:21:24

Again Nonnie you aren't actually hearing what I am saying.

I do not want this process to become easy. Because I don't want abusers to slip through the net. They should be subject to the same safeguarding regulations that adoptive parents or fostercarers go through. That's not a quick process.

If a grandparent believes the child is in an abusive home, they should be going to social services, not just going for access.

I will fight against grandparents rights without clear and consise protections for children in place, every single time. Not because I want good relationships lost but because I want there to be no chance of bad relationships happening to small children.

Starblaze Thu 18-Jun-20 14:22:25

Innocent children > adult problems

HolyHannah Thu 18-Jun-20 14:23:02

Nonnie -- The issue as I see it is, everyone is claiming to be wanting to put what is best for the minor children 'first'.

Where the disagreements/issues begin is WHAT IS BEST for the minor children and more importantly WHO DETERMINES what is in the best interests of a minor child?

Parents may decide that it is in their and by extension their minor child's "best interests" to end contact with grandparents for whatever reason. The grandparents may feel that it IS in the minor children's "best interests" to have a relationship with them.

Who is 'right'? In most places (thankfully) it is established that parents get to decide what is best and if that includes cutting off grand-parents even if undeserving of that treatment.

That said, grand-parents that have been cut-out for 'no good reason' who then run to court to force access are probably cut off for very good reasons, as now they are proving that are willing to bring the chaos and stress of a court-battle into a child(ren)'s life.

And I know that the 'parents' should "adult up" and foster a relationship with the grand-parents for "the good of the children" -- but that only applies if the parent's believe that the grand-parents are "good". If they've gone No Contact obviously they don't believe the relationship is "good".

Smileless2012 Thu 18-Jun-20 14:24:45

I felt it was appropriate to make that addition Starblaze not because of what you posted specifically, but because of the generalisations being made here about all EGP's who go to court to maintain their relationships with their GC.

Sweeping generalisations that GP's who go to court are abusive and/or controlling and manipulative are an issue. Just as saying that all parents who remove their children's GP's from their lives are abusive and/or controlling and manipulative would be an issue.

Not all EGP's were and are bad, abusive parents and not all parents deny their children their GP's out of concern for their children's welfare. As worthitall said in her OP, "the court was able to see that the cutting off of contact was not about the children but about the parent".

GP's don't have any rights to see their GC whether that has been denied due to a divorce, bereavement of one of the children's parents or because both parents decide to remove their children's GP's from their lives.

It is about the rights of the child(ren) to know their extended family and to be able to benefit from those relationships.

Nonnie Thu 18-Jun-20 14:26:19

Finally caught up on this very difficult thread.

I can see that some people are very damaged because they have had terrible experiences and that is awful. I do think there are too many generalisations though.

I doubt if many GPs would go to court lightly. I am sure they would only do it when all other forms of reconciliation had been exhausted. Of course no abuser should be allowed access to children but on the same note abusers should not be allowed to cut out people who might notice the abuse and be able to tell the authorities.

Not all GPs are bad and not all parents are good, it is far more complicated.

There are cases where GPs have good relationships which are cut off by spiteful parents. Those children may well think it is their own fault, that they did something and the GPs don't want to see them. We hear of this with divorce. No one should use a child as a pawn to their own ends, either parent or GP. All should think about what is best for the children.

In the UK we have special family courts which deal sensitively with these cases. Everyone is offered mediation before going to court and an organisation called Cafcass interviews both parties before court and give advice to the court. Nothing is done lightly and the courts are only interested in evidence, not unproven accusations.

I commend the courts that deny access for a good reason and the ones which grant access where it has unreasonably been withdrawn.

Smileless2012 Thu 18-Jun-20 14:31:54

That's an interesting point Nonnie that the process in the case you know of was quicker because it was evident that the parent was being vindictive.

No doubt that would also apply to a case where the GP was seeking contact with their GC out of vindictiveness.

Smileless2012 Thu 18-Jun-20 14:34:57

Good post @ 14.26 Nonnie "I commend the courts that deny access for a good reason and the ones which grant access where it has unreasonably been withdrawn" I can't see how anyone could disagree with that sentiment.

Madgran77 Thu 18-Jun-20 15:52:49

Madgran -- What part of what I am saying are you missing?

I am not missing anything. I understand what you are saying. I dislike the statement made up thread, that appears to say that when GPs make a decision to go to court it is about power and control. That statement implies that ALL GPs make that decision because they want power and control. That is not the case and I think that such generalisations should not be made and can seriously mislead in a discussion.

What I do see as a controlling/manipulation is when GP's take a married couple to court who have decided together to remove the grand-parents from their lives.

I understand that. However, the given in that is that 2 partners (married or otherwise) have made a decision to remove the grandparents from their lives for appropriate reasons.

For example - What if the scenario is that those partners have made the decision to remove the grandparents from their lives because the grandparents are raising concerns about abuse of the children that they have observed by one or both parents? It is not a given that there will be enough "proof" of that even when reported to social services! A GP might be tearing his/her hair out because his/her daughter is in an abusive, coercive relationship and is not protecting her small son from his father's violence; she is unable to protect herself either. The couple are estranging themselves from the grandparents, driven by the violent partner (a decision apparently "Made together"!) The grandmother has reported to Social Services but issues have been successfully covered up by the couple!!

And what about the Ellie Butler case?

It is too simplistic to assume that GPs who go to court do it for power and control in a negative sense. It is too simplistic to assume that the motivations of parents of young children in cutting out GPs is always "for the right reasons and because of negative actions from the GPs!!" Ellie Butlers grandparents fought tooth and nail. They lost. What a sad shame for Ellie!!!!


Smileless2012 Thu 18-Jun-20 15:57:27

Oh yes I remember that case Madgran it was awfulsad.

MissAdventure Thu 18-Jun-20 15:58:42

My neighbour was stopped from seeing her grandchildren, and had the police tell her to stop harassing her son.

Both children are in care now, due to their parents drink/drugs/abusive behaviour.

Strangely enough, social services did a total u turn, and put the oldest one to live with my neighbour for a while, but too many years had passed by then, and it didn't work out.

Madgran77 Thu 18-Jun-20 15:59:40

Madgran is the real issue here generalisations or small children?

The issue Starblaze is making sweeping generalisations and assumptions about the many many different circumstances that small, vulnerable children find themselves in and the motivations of adults in any group (Parents/ Grandparents/ Aunts/Uncles/Neighbours... etc etc) for doing something...that impacts on small children who need people to do the right thing for them for the right reasons!!

See Ellie Butler link in my post above! Says it all really. But what applied in that case does not automatically therefore apply across every case. It would be equally as unhelpful to generalise about all cases because of the dreadful circumstances and motivations in the Ellie Butler story. So NOT making assumptions and generalisations are hugely important to get it right for young, vulnerable children!!

Smileless2012 Thu 18-Jun-20 16:04:39

That's such a shame MissA for the children and their GP's.