Grandparent Interference with Parenting

My wife has sole legal custody of a 17 year old child (my stepdaughter) with significant behavioral issues. The child has been diagnosed with personality disorders. Because of circumstances, my wife has allowed the child to live with her biological father in Utah for the last year. During this time, my wife’s parents who also live in Utah, have been extremely intrusive in the efforts of my wife (here in NC) and the child’s father. For example, the child used a cell phone her father had given her to make multiple false reports of abuse to Utah police and child protective services. The reports were proven false. As a consequence for this behavior, my wife and her ex grounded the child from having a personal cell phone until she started to behave more appropriately. My wife’s parents disagreed with this decision to take away the phone, so they added the child to their phone plan and gave her a cell phone. These are the kinds of issues we are having with the grandparents. The most recent problem has been the grandmother telling the child that the psychiatrist is wrong in her diagnosis and that the doctor doesn’t know what she is talking about. The psychiatrist has reported to us that the child’s progress is being hampered by this interference. After many phone calls and emails, the grandparents refuse to stop interfering in the parenting efforts. Frequently, the grandmother is telling the child that it is her choice to disobey her parents various house rules. This encouragement from the grandparents is causing a significant increase in rebellion and behavior.

Question: What must be done to get a restraining order against the grandparents to either stop interfering in general, or, more specifically, to stop them from hampering the therapy by telling the child that the therapist is wrong and that treatment isn’t necessary? Would my wife have to fly to Utah to request such an order in a local court?

Since your wife and the child’s father have legal and physical custody of the child, they have the ability to control the child. They can take the phone away, and they can limit contact with the grandparents if they believe that it is not healthy for the minor child.