Grandmother seeks access to son’s children against his wishes

Son tells Family Court relationship has been strained since mother had him as teenager

The judge at the Dublin District Family Court reserved her decision on the case to later in July. File photograph: Stephen Collins/Collins

The judge at the Dublin District Family Court reserved her decision on the case to later in July. File photograph: Stephen Collins/Collins

 

A grandmother, who had been a teenage mother, applied for access to her grandchildren at the Dublin Circuit Family Court yesterday, against the wishes of her son and his partner.

The grandmother told Judge Pauline Codd she had her son when she was a teenager in the 1980s. She hadn’t realised she was pregnant and was in school the day before he was born, she said. Adoption had been suggested, but she and her mother “decided we’d rear him between us”.

She said she lived with her mother for a few years and then married her son’s father and moved to a one-bedroom house. The son moved with them and they had another child. The marriage broke down, the grandmother said, and when her son was 12 “he decided to move back” to live with her mother, where there was a spare room.

Her son married in his mid-20s and now has two children with his partner, the court heard.

“The day [my grandchild] came into the world was the second happiest day of my life,” the grandmother said.

Second grandchild

She initially saw her grandchild once a week, but she and her son had “words” three years ago and she had not seen the child since. She has never seen her second grandchild.

Under cross-examination, she agreed when they argued three years ago, she told her son to get out of her house. This was because he had said she was “the worst mother, and hadn’t reared him and hadn’t been there for him”.

She said she’d sent text messages afterwards and brought gifts to try to make up, but “every door was closed”.

“I just want the grandchildren to know they have another granny,” she said. She sought access to them for one hour, once a fortnight.

Asked if she understood her son was very hurt, and felt she was terminating their relationship, when she sent him a birthday gift that included his umbilical cord, his hospital tag, birth certificate, school report and other items from his childhood, she said she was shocked by that reaction.

“That was the last thing on my mind,” she said.

‘She resented me’

Also giving evidence, the children’s father, the son of the applicant, said he had not decided to live with his granny at 12 years of age; he was 11 years old and he was told “you’re moving down to your nanny’s now”. He said he did not have a room there, but slept in his granny’s room on a single bed.

“It’s only when you reflect on it and have your own kids, you say ‘that should never have happened’,” he said.

“Our relationship has been very strained since the day I was born . . . she resented me, I suppose . . . there is no relationship from years of neglect, that’s how I feel.”

He said on the day they fell out three years ago, they had been arguing because his daughter was asleep when he brought her to visit. The argument escalated, she threw him out and he swore he would never return.

He subsequently attempted a reconciliation, but on the same evening, his mother arrived at an event in a pub. He was there with his partner, his brother, his father and his father’s new wife. He said his mother was “absolutely twisted” and shouted she would kill his partner and his father’s wife. The allegation was denied.

The man’s partner, and mother of the two children at the centre of the application, also objected to the grandmother having access. “The heartache has crushed us,” she said.

The judge reserved her decision to later this month.