REAL SASers: Grandparents should have visitation rights too

When Angie’s* son went through a messy divorce, she lost contact with her grandchildren. Her story, and countless others like

When Angie’s* son went through a messy divorce, she lost contact with her grandchildren. Her story, and countless others like it, reminds us why grandparents should have visitation rights too.

“My son and his wife went through a relationship breakdown”, Angie explained. “He moved home with us, and she got the children”.

“Of course, this meant that my husband and I had fat chance of getting access to our grandkids”, Angie added. “There are thousands of people in my situation”.

Angie now misses her granddaughters terribly. They were once very close – Angie would babysit, and the grandchildren would cook with her.

“It’s devastating”, Angie said. “It wasn’t me who broke the relationship, so why should I suffer? Why should the grandkids suffer?”

“I had a strong bond with my granddaughters, and now that’s been ripped apart and they’re gone”, Angie explained. “I’ve spent many a night crying about lost grandchildren”.

Nearly one decade after the divorce, Angie still aches for her granddaughters. “It’s like going through grief”, she explained.

“You grieve for the grandkids you cannot see. I’ve missed out on their lives… Years of growing up and countless milestones”.

Angie is now calling for parents to exercise more compassion, and grant fairer visitation rights to grandparents. “The children need to come first”, she said.

“All break-ups are difficult, but don’t be spiteful”, Angie told separating parents. “Don’t use the little ones to hurt each other during a divorce”.

“The cousins miss out too”, Angie added. “There are less kids missing at family BBQs and special occasions now. There absence is always noticed”.

At the moment, Australia’s Family Law Act allows grandparents to apply for court orders to spend time with their grandchildren.

Whilst family law acknowledges the importance of grandparent and grandchildren relationships, it often seems that visitation rights aren’t often applied in reality.

“In situations where there’s been no abusive relationships – nothing but love and support – I can’t understand why anyone would cut family out of the picture”, Angie said.

“All I can do is hope for reconciliation in the future”, she added. “Although I miss the girls with all my heart, every day”.

Starts at 60 will continue to profile this story as it emerges. We’d like to push for better visitation rights, for grandparents such as Angie and countless others like her.

Should grandparents be given better visitation rights, when younger generations divorce? Are you missing a connection with your grandchildren?

*Names changed to protect privacy.

  1. jan dodson  

    7 yrs ago I had extremely high blood pressure. My youngest granddaughter had an absolutely disgusting temper and I found it very hard to babysit her and the other two who were fine. She was 8. I told my daughter after one very bad night, cried myself to sleep over her. Next morning I told my daughter I wouldn’t be babysitting anymore because of the temper tantrums and the nastiness. I just couldn’t cope. I was 61. at the time. She told me “you can get out and you’ll never see your grandchildren again and I’ll make sure they never want to see you again”. that was 7 years ago. I had a breakdown over it. It was like they had died, the loss. I grieved for 3 years, and am 68 this year. I see their pictures on family Facebook, but she blocked me on their Facebook site. I went to all the agencies, solicitors, family counselling. Everywhere. Found out grandparents have no rights. I was going to take her to court, but family counselling talked to my daughter, then I got a phone call from my oldest grandaughter, who was 10. She was crying and said, please Nanny don’t take mum to court. Mum’s crying because you are going to take her to court. What could I do. I loved my daughter and 3 grandchildren so much. She was a single mother and I baby sat most weekends to give her a break. For my granddaughter’s sake I gave up, couldn’t put the kids through that, as she would screw with their minds, if she could make my granddaughter ring me, crying. You grieve so much, it’s like they died, the grief. I was on medication for 2years but quit it because I realised I was gradually dying, I had given up on life. I forced myself to start living again and now have a good life but everyday I live for the thought I will see them again, as they knew how much I loved them. It was because for the 1st time I told my daughter, NO. I was a single mother for her from when she was 8 yrs old. I never told her NO, as always felt guilty that she didn’t have her father anymore. It came back to bite me. There should be someone who can help grandparents, some advocate for us. I saw my grandson when he was 17, but my daughter found out and caused him so much upset that he told me he doesn’ t want to see me again, because he’s in the middle. He went to live with his father and doesn’t see his mother. Hopefully he will want to see me one day.

    • Terri  

      My heart goes out to you Jan, I agree with you some days the heartache is unbearable & yearning to see your Grandchildren rips your heart apart, people say. ” get over it ” but this is so difficult when the Love for them is so very strong. I hope that you are reunited with your Grandkids one day & same for me. I miss them & think about them every day.

      Cheers Terri.

  2. Jane Quigley  

    I too, have been cut from my grandsons life except where it suits her. I live interstate and usually visit once every three months so my access was never going to be enough for me anyway, but in his 13months I have only got to see him in person about 6 times and only for a few hours each visit because instead of getting to see him on both Saturday and Sunday she always manages to only let us have him the one day. Not through anything I have done, but because my son won’t have anything to do with her mum because she interfered so much, that is why she has a thing about me. I loved that little boy from the moment I heard he was on the way, and it rips my heart apart being denied access to something so precious.

  3. Lee  

    I no longer see my grand children either. My daughter’s don’t want me in their life. I was a single mum and over compensated for that and spoilt them. They have no respect for me at all. As soon as I put boundaries around their behaviour they cut me out of their lives. Every day I grieve the loss of my relationship with them and my beautiful grand babies but nothing I can do. No point going to court. The mother’s would make it too hard for the children. I can’t do that to them. I wish I would run out of tears and have this pain cut out of my heart.

  4. Cwchappell  

    After seeing my grandson for everyday for 7 years, his father remarried, from tat day since the stepmonster has used him as a pawn… His father is weak, she is mean and loud and my grandson is sad.

  5. Janet Pritchard  

    I am going through the same thing with my grandsons. Their mother is being so difficult and has even accused me of trying to abduct one from school. His daddy (my son) had contacted her and said I was to collect him from school but she caused a scene and now she is saying the boy is “petrified” of him! This is so wrong to try and poison a little boy against his family. I have been a large part of the boys lives and they need their Granma and extended family !!

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