Does This Situation Justify a Restraining Order?

Updated on May 04, 2019
E.N. asks from Winter Park, FL
11 answers

My sister and our parents are estranged. She hasn’t let them see her children in 3 years. She recently received a letter from them saying if she doesn’t let them see her kids, they will try to see them on their own. Her kids are under 18. She feels the letter is threatening and is looking into whether or not she can get a restraining order against them. Does anyone happen to know? Thank you.

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answers from Baton Rouge on

Grandparents do not have any rights over their minor grandchildren that the parents do not grant them. If mom and dad say the grandparents can't have contact, then that's that.

4 moms found this helpful

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answers from Norfolk on

It really depends on the relationship between your sister and your parents.
Some relatives are toxic - it's good to be separated from toxic.
How old are the kids?
If it's been 3 years then why not wait till they are 18 and it's their choice?
It's really not good for family to try to shove their way into your sisters life.
Your sister is within her rights to discuss the situation with a lawyer and she might be able to get a restraining order.
The only person I ever heard rant about grandparents rights was a co-worker I had that was so annoying we were wondering what WE could do to get away from her.
It's no wonder her own daughter wouldn't let her kids see her - we totally understood exactly why that was.

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answers from Chicago on

It really depends on several things. The age of the children, the nature of the estrangement, and if there is an actual belief or likelihood that they will try to do something like take the children. Where I live, there has to be some sort of evidence that the person will not stay away without legal paperwork or some sort of tangible threat. Your sister really needs some good legal advice here so she can lay out the whole story and proceed correctly. If you do not prepare the restraining order just right, it is likely to be rejected. Many courthouses do offer help in filling out the correct paperwork and answering generic questions as well. In the meantime, she needs to contact schools, doctors, day cares, dentists, coaches, neighbors, etc to make sure only who she allows can see or take the children or discuss anything about them.

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answers from Portland on

My husband's mother is mentally/emotionally unbalanced. At times, she has become hysterical and demanding. During those times, he maintains very limited contact.

It just means that our kiddos aren't involved then. She doesn't get this. Why would she - she's not in a good place. Of course, he's not involved - and it's a parent's natural instinct to shield your children.

She then has threatened similar things.

There is a place on school and daycare forms where you can indicate who not to let pick up kids. Our friends (parents of their friends) are also aware. That covers things.

We never had that kind of incident. She has however, showed up at our home hysterical and with gifts.

I don't know how desperate your parents are or the particulars.

Kids don't really want to spend time with grandparents who are not respectful of their parent. It's not that they are 'picking' their parent's side. They observed what happened to begin with.

Our kids feel uncomfortable with Grandma and if she approached them, would let us know. My husband had that talk. It's kind of the same one you have if she was a stranger. You don't go off with her - you have to come home. Mom/Dad is expecting you.

It's not about the kids. The underlying issue never is. That has to be dealt with before kids can be involved - otherwise they will be involved in a toxic family dynamic. No parent wants that.

We did not need a restraining order - but we never felt they would come and 'take them'.

My suggestion would be for your sister to consult a lawyer. Sometimes just a letter from a lawyer would suffice - saying to back off.

ETA: I'm going to assume this is more than a simple disagreement or something petty. In our case, my husband has been expected to put his mother's needs first since he was a boy. Once you have children, it gets complicated. He's seen a counselor and spoken to her pastor - both recommended the course of action he's followed.

I would suggest your sister reach out to professionals to get advice - like my husband did. That way, she gets the best advice (as opposed to just here). Each situation is so different.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Boston on

How unfortunate. But if she has her reasons for keeping her distance, it's her choice. If it's so bad and so toxic, then her obligation is to protect her children.

I'm sad that they wrote this letter. I'm not sure what they mean about trying to see the kids on their own. How do they plan to do that? Show up at school? Storm the front door?

She can tell the schools NOT to release the kids to these grandparents (she doesn't need to say why), and she can block the kids' emails, social media accounts and cell phone numbers (if they have them). I'm not sure she can get a restraining order without a credible threat, but she can stop in to her local police department with a copy of the letter and have a chat with an officer. She may need to talk to an attorney, but start with law enforcement who can evaluate the contents of the letter.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

What a sad situation.

If your sister really does not want the grandparents to contact her family she needs to make it ‘official’. She does this by sending her parents a certified, signed receipt letter letting them know she does not want any contact, including her children, with them.

She should keep the return receipt and the letter, and bring this to the police department. This ‘official’ letter will give her legal standing with police and courts.

Your sister may want to consider requesting her parents to attend family counseling so ( just) the adults can work out the issues. Once functional boundaries are set, grandparent visitation can be considered. Having a neutral third party can really open up communication, help reset boundaries, and weed-out dishonest intentions.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Santa Barbara on

I took one out on my Father and stepmother when my daughter was five. They got very possessive with my daughter and told me they could just run off and take her to Mexico. That was it, I was done and we never saw them again. It is my job to look out for my daughter.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Pittsburgh on


Your sister needs to see a family lawyer in her state. That way she will get the correct information and not hearsay.

Here's what I found and it's 4 years old.

If she feels threatened? She needs to seek out a family lawyer to help her with the situation.

YOU need to stay out of the situation. As you don't want to be used by either party. You're NOT the middle man. And it's NOT your business. Yes, they are family, but your best bet is to stay out of it,.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

what a pity.

i suspect there are plenty of ways to handle it without a restraining order, though. school security is so tight these days that if you give them a heads up, it's extremely unlikely that they'd manage to get past it. and where else could they see the kids 'on their own'?

i've got a friend who's been trying for a couple of years now to get a restraining order against a mentally ill and dangerous ex-spouse and cannot. my guess is that this situation doesn't warrant intervention from the courts.

but a letter from an attorney, delivered by a process server, might be enough to do the trick.


1 mom found this helpful


answers from San Diego on

Grandparents can request visitation.
It’s called actual called Grandparent visitation.
The letter might be an civil attempt before they have to proceed to court.



answers from Richmond on

if they are threatening to try to get custody..they are more then likely..already trying to get custody ..and they don't sound like the greatest parents to begin with...the fact that they sent your sister a letter telling her they were planning on trying for custody is a big hint. write back to the parents and tell them your sister has moved...tell your sister to get a post office box and have all her mail sent there...without a documented address , a judge will not even consider a granting a grandparent custody...a restraining order will gurantee the grandparents wont get custody.

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