Wednesday, 8 February 2012

The Rights of Grandparents (And The Wrongs)

This week the Government are encouraging separated families to take into account grandparents' access to grandchildren when couples divorce - See this article in The Daily Telegraph on Monday.

Which is all well and good, but will they give the right to children to maintain contact with their grandparents when it's the grandparents who won't maintain contact? Ha, I hear you say, is there such a thing as a disinterested grandparent.

Well, yes there is.

The twin's father and I separated and divorced when they were four years old. I wouldn't say it was a particularly acrimonious divorce as in we didn't fight over who got what or access to the girls and we've maintained a "reasonable" (i.e. I no longer call him a twat or a prick, at least not to his face) relationship for the sake of the girls.

And we've all muddled along these past 12 years fine enough. I KNOW I was right to get out of that marriage when I did and not one thing has happened since to do anything but reinforce what was, at the time, a momentous, frightening and life-changing decision that frankly not a lot of my family or friends understood.

All well and good. The twins see their father regularly, I never mention money and he pays the pitiful child support that was worked out in 1999, neither more nor less.

But since 1999, well 1998 to be more exact, the twins have seen their paternal grandfather and his wife once or twice and not at all in the past five years. Not once has he sent a birthday or Christmas card or present to either of them in the past 12 years.

The message has been clearly spelled out to the twins that they are of no interest to him at all and, now at 16, they are beginning to ask questions. Not least I suspect because they are aware he is really, rather rich and well, they ARE 16 year old girls with a university education to get through *sigh.*  But they're questions that I can't answer and their father, apparently, won't.

And what makes this all the more ironic, is that my former father-in-law was (and might still be for all I can discover) a Family Court judge ... just exactly that kind of judge who's supposed to encourage parents to consider grandparents taking a role in their children's lives.

And I would never had said no to him seeing the girls at all if he had made contact in the past 12 years, which he never has, though we still live at the same address. Not even if, as I believe, he has become estranged from his son. I was estranged from his son myself, so we'd even have something in common.

But don't go feeling sorry for us because we do have an abundance of grandparents .. my own mum and dad who worship the ground the twins have crawled across, toddled on and now stride along in unsuitable shoes. And my second husband's family with four grandparents who took the twins to their hearts on first meeting and have never let go.

So here's a message for His Honour the Judge, though I doubt he will ever read this or care if he did, YOU are the one that is missing out because your grandchildren are just perfect; beautiful, bright, straight A students - and NONE of that is down to you. *Sticks thumb on end of nose and waggles it.*

*And breathe*

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