Gransnet forums


Visitation rights of my grandson's alcoholic father

(28 Posts)
Julesw Tue 22-Oct-19 13:22:05

Any help and advice would be gratefully received.

This is my problem.

My poor daughter lived for 8 years with a controlling, manipulative alcoholic. She finally left him last summer after he passed out in the garden through drinking vodka when they received a diagnosis of achondroplasia for my gorgeous 20 month old grandson.

He then went on to assault both my daughter and my 72 year old husband.

Now however, he has been granted access to my grandson and although he openly admits to detesting me, I have responsibility of ensuring he meets his father for 2 hours once a fortnight. The alternative was to leave him in a Family Welfare Centre with a social worker and his father who he has not seen since August.

I am naturally nervous about the meeting. He is rude and controlling. He is already bombarding me with e mails and texts demanding I answer him by return etc. etc.

We are meeting in a local indoor play centre where there will be other parents/children. He has already demanded that as he is taking a breathalyser in front of me (not requested by the court, but as he puts it 'done for HIS own protection) that I sign his log book.

I certainly do not wish to put my name to anything and am thinking of suggesting his takes a photo shot on his phone of the test result.

We are a quiet, gentle family who have no experience of alcoholism and aggressive behaviour.

Please help me to ensure that these meetings are enjoyable and stress free for my grandson .

tanith Tue 22-Oct-19 14:21:40

Jules I don’t have any advice but I think you should ask HQ to remove the names from your post as it may make it very recognisable.

M0nica Tue 22-Oct-19 14:29:52

Speak to a lawyer (who specialises in such issues, ro Citizen's Advice, or Barnados or the NSPCC.

Action for Children also have a site, that seems just what you need

Granniesunite Tue 22-Oct-19 15:10:18

Could you be accompanied by someone from family welfare centre. That way you would have an independent “eye” it would protect you and your grandson from “made up stories”.

jenpax Tue 22-Oct-19 16:16:55

Could you perhaps do the supervised contact in a family centre where he would be over looked by the staff and you would not be on your own with him? Failing that as someone else suggested can you take a friend with you as a supporter

Iam64 Tue 22-Oct-19 16:20:56

Julesw, I've sent you a message.

Minty Tue 22-Oct-19 16:59:44

Julesw, please remember this is a public forum and can be seen by anyone, it is never a good idea to use names.

Tedber Tue 22-Oct-19 19:23:21

Bit confused as to why the Courts granted access IF your SIL is a potential danger to his child?

I am assuming you must have agreed to be mediator for this?

So assuming it is a 'done deal' I would suggest that you put your feelings about this man aside and try to be as friendly as you can with him. This will make life easier all round, especially for your grandson.

Who knows, the threat of losing his child completely may encourage him to seek the help he desperately needs. The more antagonistic and disapproving you are, the more he will react. Staying calm and pleasant (even through gritted teeth) will be better in the long run. When you go to the play centre ask him if he wants a cup of tea/coffee for example.

Not sure why he is taking a breathalyser if he isn't ordered to but hey....if it proves he is sober then why not? What do you have to put your name to other than ...he is sober?

I don't mean you have to be bullied by this man but being awkward will not help the overall situation which in theory could go on for 16 years!!

Good luck

Julesw Wed 23-Oct-19 11:23:05

Thanks for all your support . Your comments are certainly helpful.
I do not feel judgemental just apprehensive as he has already assaulted my husband and daughter.

We totally supported him and offered him a family to understand and see a way to cope with his illness. Last year I helped arrange for him to go into rehab
Unfortunately to no avail.

silverlining48 Wed 23-Oct-19 14:07:34

Like other posters i would agree especially in the circumstances not to do this contact on your own. You can still be present but it’s better fir all sorts of reasons if someone from a family or contact centre is actually supervising.

Iam64 Wed 23-Oct-19 20:12:50

Tedber - the Courts have long operated on the basis that children usually benefit from maintaining a relationship with both parents. Drug and Alcohol abuse/dependence is a significant issue on our society. If the Courts refused contact to all parents with dependence issues, the numbers of children denied the possibility of a relationship with a parent would be very high.
As a result of austerity, many of the contact centres that were set up and run as charities have now closed. This leaves many families in the same situation as the OP. silverlining's suggestion of a family or contact centre to do the actual supervision, with the grandmother there simply to provide emotional support and security for the little one is ideal. Sadly, it's vanishingly rare for that to be possible.
Families are left to cope and rarely provided with legal aid to fund legal representation when things get complicated. I wish the OP the best.

BradfordLass72 Thu 24-Oct-19 20:32:39

Unfortunately Tedber "the Courts" are quite often one person making a wrong decision.

My step-grandson's abusive, manipulative alcoholic father was granted 4 days and night access to his very nervous, frightend little boy and there was nothing we could do about it.

The fall-out from this and other Court decisions over the past 5 years, very nearly destroyed that young life.

Julesw Where I live, Barnardos offer a service whereby they will supervise access, with or without another family member present.

I think you would be wise to make sure another adult is in the near vicinity, even if your son-in-law is unaware of their presence. This is for your safety and that of your delightful wee boy.

YOU take control over what happens, do not let HIM manipulate you.

And please be ware that you will never change that man, however hard you try. Narcissim is a personality disorder; alcoholism is an addiction.
Take care of yourself and you wee family.

Iam64 Thu 24-Oct-19 21:05:25

Good advice BradfordLass. So very sorry to read about what happened with your little grandson. It makes me so angry that manipulative alcohol abusers seem able to manipulate systems that should protect children.

Tedber Fri 25-Oct-19 10:27:08

Absolutely shocked by this. Honestly felt the courts would protect children even if being “overly cautious”. Seems not. Appalling.

BradfordLass72 Sat 26-Oct-19 03:03:55

Tedber we were just like you, absolutely sure that all the people employed to look after childrens' welfare, would actually do that. Far, far from it.

In fact the Lawyer For the Child, said, when the father withdrew his specious, vindictive claims, that he would fight on to have the wee boy removed from his home !
When I asked my son what the LFTC gained by this, I was told, 'months more fees in his pocket' - no thought whatsoever for what it did to our dear, scared little boy, whose excellent, caring Mum loves him deeply.

Needless to say there are hundreds of cases like this and now, two important enquiries into corruption in NZ's Family Court system, mostly as a result of appalling judicial decisions being brought to light by the Backbone Collective.

And according to colleagues in the UK, it's not much different there sad

Dillyduck Sat 26-Oct-19 09:43:48

Who granted access?

Forward copies of all the email demands to the person concerned, and express your concerns.

paintingthetownred Sat 26-Oct-19 10:04:16

I am sorry you and your family have experienced this.

I hope the following is helpful. I have some experience in these matters, and I'm not going in to detail about that here.

Firstly, well done for stepping up to the task.

You seem to have foremost in your mind that your daughter and grandchild need to move forward. This is a very positive thing.

I am sure that your daughter is very grateful for your help. And you helping here through this situation (and through that, obviously your grandchild) - is so important. The stronger the bonds that can be repaired between mother and child, especially at this age, the more likely the child will have a bright future. At least this is my view, and understanding of how attachments are formed confirms this.

There are more than enough criticisms that could be levelled at the Family Courts obviously. However, in the U.K. at least proceedings are intended to remain confidential. I don't personally agree with this, but I can understand how this might be in a child's interest. You will perhaps never know in full what has been disclosed there, or discussed, or taken into account.

It is bad enough for a child to have to survive a divorce, let alone emotional abuse of parent, let alone addiction in the family.

However, child does not need any relatives, friends or bystanders passing judgement on the situation. The child just needs to cope with it, and be supported in doing so.

I say this, with compassion, and I hope it comes across that way, as I have known relatives not understanding a situation in full - but still passing judgement and actually in the process doing a lot of emotional damage and not helping

I'm not saying that you are doing this, but the bottom line is, as you have already identified, the new family constellation needs to move forward and deal with the court orders that have been made.

One poster pointed out that this situation may/will need to be dealt with for the next 16 years. Wise to bear this in mind, yes the situation might change but what child (and mother( really need now is stability.

There are many fathers who are entirely absent, in prison, too far gone in terms of addiction to be present at all.

I am definitely not saying it is a good thing that contact has been 'ordered' by the Court. It may not be, but you will all want to avoid endless wrangles through the courts.

Focus on your new family constellation. You can all get through this. Show an interest and support the child's activities at school, their friends, their mum obviously. Praise your daughter, she has had to be very strong to get through this situation and she is still there and holding it together.

Two words not mentioned so far. Emotional boundaries.
Try to be clear what yours are before you go into that contact situation. Keep a log of your own as to events that happen during contact, with dates and times. You may never need it but if the fathers situation deteriorates you might.

You are doing really well holding this together right now. Hope that your new family constellation can emerge into brighter times. You can do this. All best Painting.

Alexa Sat 26-Oct-19 11:09:54

My first feeling is you could do with another adult security person during the meet at the play centre, some responsible and incognito man.

petra Sat 26-Oct-19 11:24:34

Nothing surprises me anymore with access orders after listening to a young woman I volunteer with.

She is now on her 3rd safe house. Every door and window has security on them. She has a direct line to the local police.
He has never harmed the child but has access once a week.

grandtanteJE65 Sat 26-Oct-19 14:26:25

I find it quite unbelievable that a child who is not yet two is to be seeing an alcoholic father, even although the man is apparently capable of not drinking if he is offering to take a breathalyser test.

If there is no way the boy's mother can prevent this, you obviously need a qualified social worker present at the meetings.

You should also keep all the messages the child's father sends you as depending on whether they are just annoying or threatening you may at some point need to report him to the police for threatening behaviour.

paintingthetownred Sat 26-Oct-19 22:06:34


The mother of the family doesn't need you (or anyone else) sticking your 'oar' in.

The situation is difficult enough without you advising something about which you know nothing.

They have been through the family court. If a social worker had been allocated the family would already have one.

I'm sure the mother is well aware of police involvedment etc.

Don't spout nonsense about a situation about which you very obviously have zilch experience.


Iam64 Sun 27-Oct-19 08:57:08

Hang on here painting - I'm not sure who made you the expert on all things Family Court related but I am sure it isn't helpful to the OP to have you "sticking your oar in" by having such a critical shout at grandtanteJE65.
I don't see grandtate's input as helpful to the OP but at least its well meant. Scrapping between people who are offering what they see as helpful suggestions isn't a positive on a thread like this.

Julesw Sun 27-Oct-19 19:27:13

Many thanks for all the helpful comments.

paintingthetownred Mon 28-Oct-19 20:44:43

I am 64...If the OP didn't want an opinion from someone or those who have some experience, then she/he shouldn't have posted on it in the first place.

If she/he didn't want her/his decisions open to public scrutiny then she/he shouldn't have posted. And no thanks, I am not going to be 'bullied' by those who have no experience of this.


pinkquartz Mon 28-Oct-19 21:05:26

Julesw sorry you have this situation to deal with and sorry for your DGC having this man as his father.

I would think it would be wise to talk to some professional experts on this like the CAB and or a lawyer.

if the father uses the situation to provoke you, and he might do, then it will be very difficult for you to remain calm and your DGC will pick up on this. So you need to prepare yourself mentally and then I think you will be able to rise to the situation positively because you want to protect your DGS.

It is possible that the father will not be constant with these visits. As an alcoholic is he reliable?
Can you find out the legal situation if he doesn't turn up or of he turns up late?

As he is manipulative then do find out as much as you can beforehand as I worry he might use the time to have a verbal go at you. I find it hard to imagine him making it pleasant for you but I guess he will be making it ok for his son.

As other PP's have said can you have another person present as a witness ? There are people I think called Mediators? or something who will do this. Sorry I cannot remember the correct name I will be back with it if I can remember later.

I have been in a situation not like this, but where I needed a neutral person there ...not a friend but a registered person just to see what took place at certain meetings.
That should keep the father in check.