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Estrangement

Hope For Estranged Grandparents

(906 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 Tue 16-Jun-20 17:55:25

Thank you for your post worthitall and for sharing your wonderful news.

Even if we'd wanted to go to court, it would have been impossible as we were never able to establish a relationship with our GC. The eldest was just 8 months old the last time we saw him and we've never seen the youngest.

It's good to know that there are cases where the interests of the children in continuing their relationship with their GP's results in GP's maintaining contact.

agnurse Tue 16-Jun-20 18:22:43

Actually there are a lot of things to lose. Some considerations:

1. Going to court is expensive for both sides. That's money your GC's parents won't have for other things. Depending on their income, that could be food coming out of the children's mouths.

2. There's significant stress involved. What impact will that have on your GC?

3. How will spending time with you on a schedule impact their life? Are there sports tournaments, camps, summer jobs, etc. they won't be able to do as they have to see you? What about holidays?

4. If you're unsuccessful in court, you have likely destroyed any future opportunity to get to see the children. Can you live with that?

MissAdventure Tue 16-Jun-20 18:25:20

If grandparents are considering the court route, it's important to do it quickly.

I'm glad children are being considered as the main priority.

Smileless2012 Tue 16-Jun-20 19:39:58

I agree MissA it appears to be imperative that GP's don't wait too long to go to court for permission to continue their relationship with their GC.

The points you raise agnurse are important to be considered by both the GP wishing to maintain the relationship they have with their GC, and any parent who denies their children their GP's, not out of concern for their children's welfare, but a need to pursue their own agenda, and seek to punish their own parents by denying them their GC.

Children should not be used as pawns in a game of revenge by their parents or their GP's.

Pantglas2 Tue 16-Jun-20 19:53:19

I write as a grandmother estranged for many years from two grandchildren I loved dearly and spent a lot of time with from birth, and have been reconciled now for more years than estranged.

In all the time apart, I never considered going to court as I knew it would have put the children in an awful position of choosing me against their parents. As much as we loved one another they needed their parents love and approval more and I could never have borne their distress so I suffered in relative silence.

With quiet perseverance and apologetic, forgiving hearts we found a way to rebuild and we are all beneficiaries of that benign approach in a way that legalities may not come close.

Smileless2012 Tue 16-Jun-20 20:07:46

It's great that you were able to find a way without going through the courts Pantglassmile.

It's a huge decision for any GP to have to make; something we decided even before our second GC was born that we would never do.

As I posted, the possible negative affects of GP's seeking to maintain their relationship with their GC should be taken on board by the GP's and the children's parents.

If children feel they are choosing between what their parents want and what their GP's want, the onus of responsibility is on all the adults concerned.

I agree totally that finding a way forward without resorting to a legal route is always preferable, but for some GP's the only option they feel they have is the last resort.

OceanMama Tue 16-Jun-20 23:58:22

If my children's GPs had taken us to court for visitation (and I know they wouldn't have been successful at the time), it would have ended all hope of any reconciliation between us, ever. It would also have hurt their relationship with their grandchildren. While there might be special circumstances in some cases, it says something about why the relationship might have broken down if a grandparent is willing to force their will on a family and stomp on their peace and finances to the point of court. Grandparent involvement is not always in the child's best interest. Disrupting a young family is never in the child's best interest unless there are extreme circumstances. Of course every case is different and I'd never say this always applies.

Hithere Wed 17-Jun-20 00:41:39

No relationship with parents, no relationship with their children

Using the law to force the parents on something they dont want usually backfires.

Starblaze Wed 17-Jun-20 10:22:34

I hope that the rights of the children extend to them not being forced to visit when they do not wish to do so. Apart from that I worry that this will do dreadful damage long term and I don't understand how it's the children's rights that are being awarded when they aren't the ones who sought a court order.

As stated above, I also agree that repairing the relationship with the parents (your children) should be the first priority and if you go straight to court, you are likely to destroy that relationship for good.

Saying all that, I don't know the circumstances here and I hope for the children in this situation it was worth it all, they are happy with the courts decision and you don't have the pain of losing them a second time by their choice worthitall.

OceanMama Wed 17-Jun-20 10:24:26

If there is a court order, the kids have to go do that allocated time whether they want to or not. Seems like a good way to create resentment of the grandparents to me. Eventually they will get old enough to just refuse.

Nonnie Wed 17-Jun-20 10:41:46

Debated whether to join in this because of the flack I have received in the past but here goes.

Well done worthitall, must have been a hard decision to take but, presumably, you had tried everything else first.

Smile yes, there must be some situations when you have no chance.

agnurse Yes, considerations but there is another point of view.

1 It is possible to do this without legal fees, just pay the court fees. GPs would have to weigh up the costs to the children of being deprived of their family versus court fees
2 See point 1
3 In recent case I know of the court said both sides had to be cooperative, dates were set but could be changed.
4 Would you go to court if you thought there was any chance of a reconciliation? I doubt it. There is a process to be followed and it starts with mediation, if the parties engage then there is no need to go further, if they won't engage in mediation then a decision has to be made about the effect on the child/children of being deprived of a loving relationship.

Smileless2012 Tue 16-Jun-20 19:39:58 I couldn't agree more. It should be about the children and nothing else. No one 'owns' a child.

OceanMama of course there are 2 sides and if there is a reason the GPs are likely to hurt the GC then the court/Cafcass would consider that but what about when it is nothing to do with the GC, when it is a falling out between adults? No point in establishing which adult is to blame, it is not about them.

Hithere I agree it could backfire but on whom? If a child grows up being taught that a parent can cut off family members then that child could grow into an adult who cuts of the parent.

If there is animosity between parents and grandparents the court will tell them they must not say anything negative about the other so it should not impact in that way on the children.

The legal point is that it is only the children who have the rights although in the last few years the courts have started taking the human rights of both children and gps into account.

OceanMama Wed 17-Jun-20 11:24:33

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Hithere Wed 17-Jun-20 12:44:37

"HithereI agree it could backfire but on whom? "

It backfires on everybody - the granchild the most.
No matter what, the visits must happen no matter what the child thinks.
It backfires on the grandparent too - there is no way the happy relationship the grandparent envisions will happen in this circumstances - who wants a forced relationship when one party has right to say no?
It backfires on the parents - the stress, the worry, the bitterness is felt in the home of the granchild that the grandparent claims to love so much and want the best for the granchild.
The parent of the gc is your son or daughter, dont you care about their happiness too?
Why ignore that chain of the family as if it didn't exist and go directly to the children?

"If a child grows up being taught that a parent can cut off family members then that child could grow into an adult who cuts of the parent."

That is not a reason for parents not to cut off anybody in the present. Fear of what may happen in the future should not rule your present. Nobody controls what is going to happen in the future
It teaches kids to stand up for themselves. That is a good thing in my book.

Plenty of estranged parents are not estranged from their parents, yet their adult children estranged themselves -where did the adult offspring learn it if the parents did not teach it?

"If there is animosity between parents and grandparents the court will tell them they must not say anything negative about the other so it should not impact in that way on the children."
I agree. There is no need to involve the law into making that happen.
The law is involved to get something the parents are not giving the grandparent.

"The legal point is that it is only the children who have the rights although in the last few years the courts have started taking the human rights of both children and gps into account."

While the minor child has rights, it is the parents' job to hear them and carry them out

The rights of minor children are in the hands of their parents or guardians.

The grandparent- grandchild relationship is not a right.
There is no law that says that a grandparent - grandchild relationship must exist no matter what the circumstances are.

It says it has to proved it is in the best interest of the child.

Hithere Wed 17-Jun-20 12:46:44

So.many.grammatical.errors..... I wish I could edit and correct them.

Smileless2012 Wed 17-Jun-20 12:51:58

I was thinking the same thing Nonnie, GP's surely wouldn't risk a future reconciliation by going to court to see their GC, if they thought there was any chance of there being a reconciliation.

As you posted, it is the rights of the children that courts look at, not the rights of the parents and/or GP's. Worthitall in her OP says that the court in her case recognised that her being denied her GC "was not about the children but about the parent".

MissA made a good point earlier on the thread that GP's need to make the decision relatively early. If too much time has gone by it can count against the GP's and be seen as them not being as serious about maintaining the relationship with their GC that they claim.

I agree OceanMama that if an AC's parent cuts their AC out of their lives it would be totally wrong to then try and have access to their GC. When it's the AC that's cut out their parent(s), the children's GP's, that's a different matter entirely.

Children whose parents don't live near enough to their GP's for regular physical contact can still develop and maintain a relationship with their GP's.

Our friends have a lovely relationship with their GC, two who were born in Aus. and lived there for several years and the third born in America where the family now live.

They only get to visit once a year but have regular face time contact as well as being able to send birthday and Christmas cards and gifts, knowing that the children receive them.

Our DS lives in Australia, no children as yet and if there were to be any, even very little physical contact and being able to face time when they're older and being able to send cards and gifts would be a blessing when compared to being cut out of the lives of the GC we do have here in the UK.

If children are denied their GP's because of their parents decision to estrange their parents, the children's right to know their extended family as per the Children Act, is being denied Starblaze.

It doesn't have to be this way. I know I've posted before about a friend of Mr. S.'s whose son refuses to have any contact with his parents to the extent that he crosses the road if he sees them.

They continue to see their GC, taking them for day's out and having them for sleep overs. An example of a parent who isn't allowing his personal grievances with his parents, to impact on his children.

Smileless2012 Wed 17-Jun-20 13:01:28

There is no law that says that a grandparent - grandchild relationship must exist no matter what the circumstances are. It says it has to be proved to be in the best interest of the child.

As it should be Hithere and the fact that in some cases the GP's application to the court is successful shows that there are cases when the parents decision to prevent their children from continuing the relationship they have with their GP's is not in the best interest of the child(ren).

Starblaze Wed 17-Jun-20 13:29:26

*Smileless, 2 of the statements you agree with directly co tradict each other.

I am not siding with estranged children or estranged parents, I am siding with innocent children and in my line of work I see how much damage this sort of thing can do to children when it is their parents going to court for contact. Now we have grandparents battling over children too.

If there is an abusive person on one side of this, which there usually (statistically proven) is when these cases go to court, the child will suffer.

I lived it between my parents (I expect you can imagine which parent made me suffer for simply loving the other parent). Thank goodness no one else wanted a piece of me too.

OceanMama Wed 17-Jun-20 13:43:09

Smileless, it's sort of off topic but distance doesn't always make it easy to have a relationship with the grandparents regardless. Granted I was born before Facetime and things like that, but even with the odd letter from one grandmother, I never had my grandparents or any extended family. That was a lifestyle choice of my parents, no rift. There was no money on either side for visits either. I don't think it was the ideal decision for me but that was my parents choice to make because they are the parents. To a degree I don't like the choice my parents made but it was theirs to make, even though it has had lifelong ramifications for myself and my two siblings.

Smileless2012 Wed 17-Jun-20 14:38:23

I totally agree with your Starblaze if there is an abusive person in the mix so to speak, but not when children who have a good relationship with their GP's, suddenly have that relationship taken away.

I can as you say, imagine which one of your parents "made (you) suffer for simply loving the other parent" so I understand the point you are making.

Whether it's parents fighting for custody or access to their own children or GP's fighting for access to their GC it's the responsibility of all the adults concerned to put their own issues to one side and do what's in the best interests of the children.

I'm sorry that you were affected by not having any extended family OceanMama and your post raises important issues especially when estrangement is the reason.

Our ES's wife is an only child and certainly when we were in contact with them apart from her parents, she had no contact with other family. Especially on his father's side our ES had an extensive extended family, the only member of which he has contact with now being his brother.

Nonnie Wed 17-Jun-20 16:20:54

So much good sense in some of these posts, especially I think from Smile but I do have so makes some comments about what Hithere Wed 17-Jun-20 12:44:37 said:

"It backfires on everybody - the granchild the most." why does it have to? If the adults behave like adults it shouldn't.

"there is no way the happy relationship the grandparent envisions will happen in this circumstances" why not if the adults behave like adults?

"It backfires on the parents - the stress, the worry, the bitternes" why would the parent/s be bitter if the court has shown them what is best for the child? That would not be an adult response.

"The parent of the gc is your son or daughter, dont you care about their happiness too?" not necessarily, could be an in-law. The GC must have thought about this and decided the child/children's welfare is more important than someone whose behaviour is deemed unreasonable. Again, I suggest the court is impartial.

"It teaches kids to stand up for themselves" Does it? I would hope the parent/s would not have involved the child/children in any conflict/court case as that would not be good for the child.

"Plenty of estranged parents are not estranged from their parents, yet their adult children estranged themselves -where did the adult offspring learn it if the parents did not teach it? I think estrangement is a relatively new thing so they wouldn't learn it from parents. I don't think there was even an estrangement forum when I joined GN.

"While the minor child has rights, it is the parents' job to hear them and carry them out" Absolutely

"The rights of minor children are in the hands of their parents or guardians." and if the court decides that the children have a right to see their GPs the parents must ensure they get that right.

"The grandparent- grandchild relationship is not a right.
There is no law that says that a grandparent - grandchild relationship must exist no matter what the circumstances are." Correct, as I said the children are the ones with the rights but human rights on both sides are now taken into account.

"It says it has to proved it is in the best interest of the child." Of course so if the court decides what is in the best interest then all adults should make it work. In the case I have heard about it was rather more that the court wanted proof that the GPs would harm the children.

Nonnie Wed 17-Jun-20 16:27:54

starblaze I'm sorry you had an abusive parent, do you think it affected your views? "If there is an abusive person on one side of this, which there usually (statistically proven) is when these cases go to court, the child will suffer." A child will always suffer if there is abuse but what if the abuser is the one preventing contact? Surely in such a case it would be in the child's interest to have contact with the non-abuser?

OceanMama at that time it was the parents' choice but that is no longer the case. Now the welfare of the child is paramount. I have GC who live a long way away and we have a wonderful relationship on video calls. Covid 19 stopped them coming this year but the GC are still regularly packing their bags and saying they are coming to see us.

Starblaze Wed 17-Jun-20 16:58:40

Nonnie effected my views in what ways? I think my training and case studies affect my views the most. Children's welfare is paramount which is why I am so careful not to negatively impact my own children.

Yes I lived with an abusive parent and an abuser is going to abuse regardless. They do have triggers though. When my mum was angry at my dad, I was the one who paid the price. When I went away with him, I was the one screamed at when I got back. I was the one screamed at if he was late or his child support payments were late. If he cancelled a visit with me due to illness etc, I was the one screamed at that he didn't come and she couldnt have her weekend to herself.

Nonnie I adored my Dad but I stopped visiting him as often as a teen because it stopped my mum abusing me as much.

So yes, abusers are abusive but they also have triggers.

My grandfather on my Dad's side was also sexually abusive. That meant for much of my young childhood seeing my dad meant being at risk to him (not that I had a clear understanding of what was going on). That man also mentally abused me and convinced me of things like physical abuse happening at home because he wanted me living with my dad so he had more access.

So actually I have experienced abuse from a parent and a grandparent.

Incidentally, my two abusers on opposite family sides unknowingly working towards the same goal, which was grooming me to be accepting of abuse, meant that I didn't recognise just how bad my situation was until much later in life. I should have estranged at 18.

So I know that children are in danger and throwing about court ordered visitation may put children in more danger as a whole. That's not me judging individual situations.

As you can see by my being stuck between a rock and a hard place, foursome children abusive behaviour can be both parent and grandparent. So some children will be in even more danger.

Not a single soul ever noticed that there was anything wrong with me as a child. No one ever looked at me and wondered if something sinister was going on behind closed doors.

So no, I don't think my abuse has impacted my views in a negative way when children are at stake.

Starblaze Wed 17-Jun-20 17:02:32

In fact I should probably serve as a warning because I've had to fight very hard for a very long time to undo a hell of a lot of damage. Why ever add more stress and difficulty to any child's life if you believe they are already suffering.

Pantglas2 Wed 17-Jun-20 18:11:36

Your last sentence is so true Starblaze and was the reason I stepped back because I knew it the children who’d pay the price for my wanting to be part of their lives against the parents wishes.

It’s also interesting on another thread that a mother has a son who, in my opinion, is abusing his mother in a similar way to the way your mother did with you, blaming you for everything.