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What is considered reasonable grandparent access?

Hello,

My daughter & son-in-law have denied me access to my two grandchildren for four years - for reasons unknown. I have been overseas for three of the four years with nil  contact (emails, presents not given to children) I left Australia with Australian Volunteers International to work in a third world country. Before leaving I had a close relationship with the children with weekly access. I live only 10 minutes away. While away I phoned to pass on birthday wishes to my daughter, & was told by my son-in-law that, "You are no longer welcome in our family". I was & still am - totally devastated & bewildered, & have been unable to find out the reasons why. Since being home for a year I've sought counselling, & subsequently contacted them by mail & again advised that contact was still out of the question. Suddenly, after another short request from me through a family friend, they agreed to meet with me. This short meeting occurred last night & I was advised that, "For the benefit of preventing the children accusing us in later years of not allowing them to see their Nanny, we have decided you can see them". My son-in- law was intent on baiting me but I refused to rise to the bait & remained calm (outwardly).

In short, the access they have stipulated is to be 'supervised', for two hours at their house, three times a year.

Prior to going overseas I saw the children weekly & often babysat them, either at their house or they stayed overnight at my house, completely unsupervised & without conditions. In other words they trusted me with their children. I do not have a partner & have lived alone for 10 years. I am not involved with drugs nor alcohol, & am an honest, loving, compassionate woman. The loss of my beloved grandchildren & daughter has broken my heart. They are my only family.

Can anyone tell me what would be considered 'reasonable access' in the eyes of WA Law? Three times a year is not 'reasonable' in my book, especially after previous access.

If I took it to 'family relationship mediation' is it likely that I'd get more frequent access?

Thanks for any help on this matter.

Rosebud
Family relationship mediation may or may not help. I do not know the law, but as grandmother myself I would give the mediation a try.
Rosebud said
Hello,

My daughter & son-in-law have denied me access to my two grandchildren for four years - for reasons unknown. I have been overseas for three of the four years with nil  contact (emails, presents not given to children) I left Australia with Australian Volunteers International to work in a third world country. Before leaving I had a close relationship with the children with weekly access. I live only 10 minutes away. While away I phoned to pass on birthday wishes to my daughter, & was told by my son-in-law that, "You are no longer welcome in our family". I was & still am - totally devastated & bewildered, & have been unable to find out the reasons why. Since being home for a year I've sought counselling, & subsequently contacted them by mail & again advised that contact was still out of the question. Suddenly, after another short request from me through a family friend, they agreed to meet with me. This short meeting occurred last night & I was advised that, "For the benefit of preventing the children accusing us in later years of not allowing them to see their Nanny, we have decided you can see them". My son-in- law was intent on baiting me but I refused to rise to the bait & remained calm (outwardly).

In short, the access they have stipulated is to be 'supervised', for two hours at their house, three times a year.

Prior to going overseas I saw the children weekly & often babysat them, either at their house or they stayed overnight at my house, completely unsupervised & without conditions. In other words they trusted me with their children. I do not have a partner & have lived alone for 10 years. I am not involved with drugs nor alcohol, & am an honest, loving, compassionate woman. The loss of my beloved grandchildren & daughter has broken my heart. They are my only family.

Can anyone tell me what would be considered 'reasonable access' in the eyes of WA Law? Three times a year is not 'reasonable' in my book, especially after previous access.

If I took it to 'family relationship mediation' is it likely that I'd get more frequent access?

Thanks for any help on this matter.

Rosebud
What a terrible state of affairs Rosebud, this is occurring across Australia to many Grandparents and their grandchildren.  What a shock, and very traumatic for you, something has obviously changed with your daughter to make her behave like this.  Try mediation, but it wouldn't surprise me if your daughter and son-in-law refuse to attend, but worth trying anyway.  Refuse to be intimidated, try to hold onto your dignity and self respect.  According to the Family Law Act 1975, amended in 2006 your grandchildren have rights to see you and the position of grandparents in children's lives was strengthened in 2006.   2 hours supervised access three times a year at their home is absurd! Absolutely! How digusting and demoralising is this?  You may know of this organisation in WA,  www.granpower.org.au but if not, contact them.  I hope they will be able to give you the assistance and support you desperately need.  Take comfort in knowing you are not alone.  Grandparents are uniting and speaking out against this (elder abuse) by their own children.

First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.  M K Gandhi

Grandparent contact

Hello Rosebud

I have been in a similar situation - 7 years has passed since I last saw my grandchildren.  My daughter (only child) objected to my second marriage (18 years post my divorce from her father) and her and her partner chose to withdraw my contact from their three children until I 'changed my mind'.  Like you I had unlimited, unsupervised, unrestricted contact with the children prior to this incident.  I had provided financial, emotional and physical support to the parents (they were 17 when they had the first child) and I even mortgaged my home and bought a home for them.  My daughter refused 'point blank' to converse about the issue.  'Broke my heart' too - but it's important to know that no court is interested in what the implications of no contact are for the grandparent - best to 'let that go' and focus on the benefits to the children of contact with you.

I initiated FLC proceedings after exhaustive attempts to communicate.  The 'long and the short of it' was that my daughter feigned mental health decline and implied that my behavior was the cause with the end result being that she was unable to parent her children.  The first Family Report that was ordered ($3000.00 I paid for but she chose the assessor) recommended reinstatement of contact.  She refused to co-operate, became 'suicidal', incorporated the support of her father and 'misguided' family members.  Stalled proceedings for 2 years during which time I had no contact at all with the children.  Finally, when she has 'recovered' we proceed back to court 2 years later and, because of the time lapse we required another family report.  I refused to pay for another one, she said that she could not afford it (her father is a millionaire and she was employed by him…the court asked for no evidence of her financial status - the court just believed her).  A Family Court assessor was assigned.  A brief two page report saying that due to the time that had passed since contact (2 years) and the mother's 'fragile state' there should be no contact.  The report recommended that she send photos, encourage phone contact etc. but she did none of that and told me to stay out of her life. I voluntarily chose to cease proceedings and to walk away in the interests of the children as their mother's position was 'set in stone' and my continuing would only cause them pain. That was 5 years ago but my last contact with them was 7 years (in Feb).

My eldest grandchild turned 17 in October and I sent him a present.  I had since learned that his mother had begun a new relationship and has another baby and that my grandson lives now mostly with his father.  My daughter accepted the gift that I sent to my grandson, communicated to me that my grandson wanted no contact with me as he recalls having to care for his sisters whilst she was 'suicidal' and that he knows that I have a psychiatric disorder and that she knows a psychologist who will testify that I have a psychiatric disorder.  She told me that the other children would not have contact with me and when they were 18 they could make up their own minds.  She still works for her father, owns the home that I bought ( she 'acquired it' during court proceedings) and has a 'nice life'.  She told me also that she is a good mother and that I need to just get on with my life.  She sounded resentful that my marriage was successful.

I lost my home to pay for legal fees.  Lost a part of my life.  I still have my marriage to the man they did not want me to have - he is a professional man, quiet and gentle.  My heart is still broken.  I am considering trying again to have contact (thru the FLC) as my youngest grandchild is only a couple of months old and my other two are 10 and 13.  But, I fear very much that my daughter will succeed.  She has the means, the position (mother of the children), the motivation and the personality attributes to do so.

I recently tried mediation but the centre would not accept the 'case' as two many years had passed since contact.  I have a certificate from them tho that will allow me to proceed to court.  I think of that with a sense of dread.  I am trying Relationships Australias 'Problem Solving for one' which gives 1.5 hours of free time with a highly qualified family court trained clinician - I attend that session next month.  I don't expect that that session will tell me anything that I don't know - but you never know.



Joining this forum was part of my plan to care for myself.  I think that it's helping.  Unfortunately, I can see a life for myself without ever having contact with my grandchildren again.  But, where there's life, there's hope, they say.

Hope this is of use

Rgds

Pilly35
Hello Pilly35

How heartbreaking this is for you.  Your story is just one of many we hear about every week.  Grandparents are uniting and speaking out.  A meeting was held last November at Bond University, Queensland about the formation of a National Body for Grandparents.  This is now underway and a committee of representatives will soon be elected to represent grandparents about these very issues affecting grandparents and their grandchildren.

Grandparenting representatives will lobby the Family Law Council to seek changes in the application of the Family Law Act to ensure grandparents are not needlessly isolated from their grandchildren.  Dr. Maged Rofail, a retired Doctor of Law has commented for "The Senior."  Grandparents lobby on family law. See following link.

http://seniornsw.realviewtechnologies.com/?startpage=6&iid=32156

In the meantime, take care, and stay stong.

Regards Calista

First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.  M K Gandhi
Wow ladies!!  Your stories have brought me near to tears.  I think in our busy lifestyles everyone has become very selfish.  I am really sorry to hear what you are going through and just can not imagine the pain you must be feeling.  I don't have any advice sorry to say but just wanted to offer some support.  I think you need to go for what you think is the right thing for you and you will definitely down deep down in your gut what is the right thing!!

Good luck with everything!  Stay strong and keep your faith!!
Rosebud said
…In short, the access they have stipulated is to be 'supervised', for two hours at their house, three times a year.

Can anyone tell me what would be considered 'reasonable access' in the eyes of WA Law? Three times a year is not 'reasonable' in my book, especially after previous access.

If I took it to 'family relationship mediation' is it likely that I'd get more frequent access?
Certainly the contact offered is inadequate and not at all in line with what the intent was in the new Act that was passed in 2006. However to get anywhere with this you need to start at a Relationship Center. From there regardless of whether they turn up or not the next step is the WA Family Court , which is not all plain sailing. WA Family Law is often a law unto itself and we have had cases where good Grandparents have got very little and some nothing after going to what they thought was somewhere that could help them.

If you could get to the bottom of what has changed that would be helpfull. certainly in a hearing you will force them to disclose what the issues are.. Which may in fact be a step in the right direction. Whatever the actions you take, these Grandchildren deserve better than what is currently on offer but certainly take what you can get as it could be worse and many do have worse situations. It will be a somewhat time consuming task so do not give up, contact the Grandparenst group listed on this thread and keep in touch. If you need help representing the SRL-R group on the site here is the place to start.

Executive Secretary - Shared Parenting Council of Australia
 Was my post helpful? If so, please let others know about the FamilyLawWebGuide whenever you see the opportunity
 

Grandparent contact

  Thankyou Calista and mumof4 for your supportive comments.  Just simply placing a post is encouraging and supportive to me.  I followed the recommended link Calista, thankyou.

To mumof4 - the most difficult issue for me now and way back then was finding an answer to the question "What is the right thing to do?"  I believed that if someone could tell me , unequivocially, what the right thing to do was, then I would have done it.  There is no right answer.  I believed that taking some court action was in the best interests of the children because we had an establised, supportive, loving and caring relationship and I believed that the children had a right to that relationship and I believed that the parents had a right of responsibility, to settle their disagreement regarding my lifestyle choices with me and had a responsibility to maintain and support the children's relationship with me.  I also believed that to demonstrate to the children that to excommunicate people from their life if one had a disagreement with them was an ok way of coping with and resolving conflict, was wrong.  I also believed that to use the children as weapons was also wrong.  I chose my course of action based on those beliefs.

I still don't know if I did the right thing or the wrong thing but I know what I have left - a seemingly irretrievable relationship with my oldest grandson (if my daughter can be believed) and no potential to get to know my grandaughters again and no potential to know my newborn grandson at all, and a seemingly irretrievable realtionship with my only child.  I walked away thinking that was the right thing to do - to relieve the burden of conflict from the children's lives and from their parents lives.  I thought that time and space for the parents would offer the opportunity to develop some new ways of thinking around the problem.  That didn't happen.  Five years post any contact with my daughter and son in law and my daughter is as oppositional to me, as angry with me, and as determined as ever to maintain the status quo.  Her previous partner has not responded to me post my sending my grandsons' present.  Her new partner has not had contact with me.  My daughter has progressed financially developing further her relationship with her fathers company.

So, mumof4 - I think that the answer lies in teaching our young, and learning ourselves better ways of dealing with conflict and better ways of managing grief by loss.  No doubt in my mind that my inability to manage my grief and shock in learning that I may never see my grandchildren or have relationship with my only child ever again contributed to the escalation of the conflict.  I had anticipated that, given all the support that I had shown to both my daughter and my son in law that they would be happy for me to develop a life of my own.  But that was not to be. I'm wiser now and can manage my grief better and in a more measured way.  I also have learned a lot about myself during the process, not least that I had come to rely a lot on having my daughter and her children in my life and a life without them had become unimaginable.  I erred there, tho I am kind to myself on reflection given that my daughter and her partner were 17 at the time of the first pregnancy, had few resources, had bills verywhere', knew nothing about responsibility regarding parenting or skills regarding parenting and they constantly sought out my help at every level.  I became enmeshed in their lives without really realising that.  Again, that's another question: "When your children are in this position when does helping become enmeshment - when do you say "no" ? - it's hard when little children are involved and domestic violence is an issue the parents wn't recognise that - when they claim to "know it all" and you know they don't and you know the risk to the little ones.

I have to accept some responsibility for what occurred.  I accept that (in the context of my issue) the FLC is not to blame (even tho several decisions and the rationale for those decisions were very questionable in the light of the presented evidence).  The FLC and the members of the judiciary are expected to resolve conflicts that we ourselves cannot resolve - it's just not possible for everyone to walk out happy.  There are losers and there are winners and there are (unfortunately) grinners.  I think that the children, the ones whom we seek to protect are still the losers.  I would dearly love to know the answer to that question "What is the right thing to do?"" - if we knew that answer then the children may not lose so much in the process and I would know what to do now.

Thanks, mumof4, for your contribution and you empathy.  Keep up the good work.

Rgds

Pilly35
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