If you are a grandparent about to embark on going down the legal route to try and obtain a Child Arrangement Order, please read this.
You will know that I never advise grandparents to pursue this, although I will always support those who do.
Grandparents have kindly agreed to share their own stories with you, so this is their experiences not just me being over protective.
“Following a year of estrangement from my daughter, I decided to ask for some advice.
I spoke to a family solicitor in my town.
Although, she was helpful, I didn’t really feel that she was very knowledgeable on this matter. I was advised to undergo mediation, which I did. The mediator was so kind and very sympathetic and I spent a couple of hours with her. I felt, at this time, she was the only person who really had any idea of what I was going through. It cost me £100, but it did give me some comfort. At the beginning of the meeting, she told me that my daughter had refused mediation!!
So this was the only time I saw her.
I went to my local Court and collected the necessary papers. I spent a long time completing them, giving accurate information.
Eventually, I got a date for the Court Hearing, for Permission to apply for a Child Arrangement Order.
Two days prior to this date, CAFCASS rang me …. I was so upset by this phone call, as it was obvious by what I was told, this Court hearing was going to be futile!
She was completely speaking up for my estranged daughter and to be perfectly honest, was pointing a finger at me for the silly falling out that has caused all this. I was mortified, but after speaking with my husband, decided to go ahead with the Court hearing as
I had paid in advance for it all ….
On arrival at the Court, I was ushered into a room, alone. A clerk, then appeared and asked me about CAFCASS report and did I agree with it …. I hadn’t received any report, as the phone call was at 4pm on Friday, and the Court was on Monday morning!!
I was called in to speak with someone from CAFCASS – she spoke above me and I knew then, before I even went into the Court room, that I was 100% defeated.
It was all about my daughter and virtually nothing about the child, which distressed me greatly.
In the Court room, my daughter was escorted in by an assistant, as she claimed she was in need of support!!!
The judge was polite and professional, but the top and bottom of it was …. hopefully, we can ‘make it up’ and have a normal family life.
That was it …….
Following the Court appearance, I contacted CAFCASS and suggested that they were unwilling to listen to me and the fact that I was concerned about the effect all this has on my granddaughter. I heard nothing, and haven’t to this day.
I felt belittled and my voice wasn’t heard.
I will never go down this route again. It nearly finished me off to be honest. The fact that I have worked as a nurse for 40 years and have never had a complaint against me in all those years and have never had any problems like this, counted for nothing.”
Grandparent B’s story:
“I had no idea what it would be like to go before three magistrates to try and see my grandchildren. I have always totally believed in British Justice and my solicitor led me to believe I had a good case, and that I would soon be able to have a loving relationship with my grandkids.
So I carried on.
My son had contacted my solicitor and made wild allegations about me, I couldn’t believe it when he told me.
I had to write a truth statement as did my son, we would both see them before the hearing.
When I read his statement, it literally tore my heart apart. I just couldn’t understand the lies he had written about me, I sounded like a monster.
My grandchildren had always been very close to me and we had spent so many happy times, they would come for sleepovers and we would make pancakes for breakfast.
How could the son I carried for 9 months think of me in this horrific way?
As the hearing got closer I didn’t know how I was going to walk through that court room door?
I was representing myself, but my solicitor had been giving me advice on what to say, he also told me to get evidence together to show what a wonderful relationship I had with my grandchildren. I spent hours and hours getting photos, pictures, poems that they had written to me.
It was heartbreaking, every piece was yet another memory.
I decided that I had to put on some sort of mask to enable me to get through this, but it would be worth it.
As I waited outside the court room, I saw my son he had someone with him, I didn’t recognise who it was. I later heard it was a McKenzie friend.
When I went in, there were screens up so that I couldn’t see my son, at this point I knew things were not going to happen the way I thought.
I was told that I would not be allowed to have any contact with my grandchildren.
CAFCASS said I was a risk to my grandchildren.
All the evidence that I had got together was not looked at by anyone, all those magic memories meant nothing.
I meant nothing.
It was all over in 10 minutes.
I had to wait in the room until my son had left.
I can’t explain how this has made me feel, I don’t know how I am going to carry on.”
Thank you to the grandparents who gave permission for me to share, the devastation is for all to see.
Several grandparents tell me stories just like these two, these are not exceptions.
If a solicitor tells you to gather evidence to take with you on the day, please be aware that it won’t be looked at.
When a date is given for a hearing, there is also a date for all documents to be submitted, magistrates will read all documents prior to the hearing, but not the evidence that is brought to court on the day. If it’s new evidence and the legal advisor feels it is sufficiently important then they are free to ask the other party if they will accept it. In which case it may be that the case is adjourned.
Please, think carefully before going down this route.