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Protecting the Rights of Grandchildren

By: Elizabeth Grace - Updated: 22 May 2017 | comments*Discuss
Family Law Lawyer Attorney Child

When grandparents are responsible for the day to day care of their grandchildren they must take special precautions to be sure that the children's rights are protected. There are a number of things that can be done to assure that the children can continue to live in a safe, nurturing environment.

Securing Legal Representation

While it must certainly feel odd to seek legal representation for a grandchild in order to protect them from bad decisions that their parents may make for them, it is an unfortunately common occurrence. Lawyers specialising in family law are the best choice for such matters, providing invaluable advice and guidance to worried grandparents. Whether grandparents are looking for legal permission to take temporary guardianship of their grandchildren or are seeking permanent custody, it is vital that they employ a competent attorney. While some families choose to operate with only informal agreements between the adults, this can put the children at risk in the event that one of the parties fails to meet their obligations. Having matters in writing affords everyone the peace of mind of knowing that the children's best interests will be kept as the single biggest priority.

Listening to the Children

While it is sometimes impractical or impossible for children to have their way in family matters, it is still important for them to be given a voice. Children, especially young ones, are not always capable of understanding the problems within their family, but they typically have a good grasp of how the situation makes them feel. It is common for children to love and defend their parents, even when those parents have shown themselves to be incapable of providing a proper home environment. Children should never be made to feel their feelings are unimportant or "wrong," but they need to be protected and provided for, just the same. Grandparents who have taken in their grandkids must make every effort to accommodate the children's wishes regarding involvement with their parents, except in cases where that involvement puts the children at risk.

Seeking Professional Help

Kids who have been through traumatic experiences will experience a wide range of emotions and can sometimes benefit from talking to someone outside of the family to help them get perspective. Child psychologists and family counsellors are trained to guide children safely through their feelings, allowing them the opportunity to express themselves without fear of judgement or negative repercussions. Often, children are hesitant to communicate their emotions because they either do not want to hurt the feelings of family members or feel that they do not want to add to the family's burdens. In any case, children need to have a safe outlet for their emotions, so arranging counselling sessions can be quite beneficial.

Providing Proper Documentation

Ideally, parents who are unable to care for their children would be grateful for the assistance of their own parents, but that is not always the case. Sometimes parents who suffer from mental illness, substance abuse problems, or are abusive to their children, strongly object to relinquishing the kids into anyone else's care. In cases such as these, grandparents must be diligent in documenting every incident in which the children's parents have endangered them. While taking such extreme measures is undoubtedly difficult and awkward, it is in the best interest of the children to see that they are living in a safe and stable environment.

Grandma and Grandpa Matter, Too

The stress that is involved in caring for children can take its toll in even the best of circumstances, but for grandparents who are involved in ongoing disputes with their grown children, the difficulties are multiplied. It is all too common for caregivers to be diligent about seeing that the children's needs are being met while failing to look out for their own needs. Grandparents should make every effort to schedule a bit of relaxation time for themselves, as well as seeing that their own needs for a healthy diet, exercise, and sufficient sleep are met. Safeguarding their personal health is one way to assure that they will be able to provide their grandchildren with the very best care.

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Hi,my daughter has been married almost 2 years now but unfortunately our now 16 year old Granddaughter doesn't get along with her husband.It looks to us that he doesn't like the way our daughter is with her and says she is not strict enough.She is a good girl,has a boyfriend of 2 years and has just started her GCSE'S.He is abrupt and rude to her friends,never speaks first and has said hurtful things to her about her birth Dad who isn't in her life,which effects her. It's as if she's in the way!!!!!
Neicey - 22-May-17 @ 4:44 PM
Hi, first of all thank you for your invaluable resource. My grandson is 13 and currently lives with me ( for past 4 months now ... he came feb 2017). He started running away from home when his mum moved to a new area/authority. He has issues to do with mum. He has 2 younger siblings with a 3rd due any day now. As i live under a different area authority for ss we have a war between the two. Mum still has parental respinsibility for him n there are no court orders or involvement. My understanding is that ( please could you clarify thus for me?) That, when ss take on a case ie get a referral, they take on the whole family as a case. Therefore the new area authority are responsible for dealing with my grandsin surely? As he lives with me in a different area a referrals been made by the original ss team only for them to " support" us whilst hes living with me...my area ss are making life intolerable for us n both authorities keep batting the ball back n forth n me n my daughter are getting caught in the crossfire. Re ss who shud be doing what it went to cp but was reduced to c. i. n status n im following the careplan rules...occasionally he stays out overnite at mates without askn first n my area ss are kucking off about it sayn he shud go home to mum n work done with family unit as a whole etc etc...need legality of this sorting asap my daughters really stressed n due to give birth. Thank you. What should the " support" ss be doing n not doing?
Jo - 11-May-17 @ 3:40 PM
Hi we have been going through a lot with ss over last 3 years my daughter has been worn down with constant referrals and stuff all unwarrantedbut then the situation got worse and it did become warranted my daughter has 3 kids one just turned 3 and twins who have just turned 2 it all came to a head last year about November time and my daughter and grandkids came to live with me we continued trying to support her but it wasn't even and the referrals kept coming it was decided that the kids would stay with me and both parents signed a section 25 my grandkids are now with their dad but i am seeing more and more things that i dont like unfortunately i have lost all faith it social work therefore i fel i cant go to them their dad is now going for a residency order which i feel is not in the best interest of my grandkids my daughter will not get them back but the is no court order of anything to stop her having her kids it has all veen done through social work who i feel have discounted mythoughts on what is best for my grandkids i had them for 12 weeks before they went to their dad who showed no interest in the kids other than to make my daughters life a misery i am at my wits end with it all and i know they want to stay with me and my husband we have been the only constant in their livesand i find thios a maze to get through as social work are very untrustworthy i am scared to say anything incase they put them in carethis would destroy me as they have lived with me for a long time now any advice would be gratefully received thanks in advance
nana99 - 29-Dec-16 @ 1:41 AM
grandmother3 - Your Question:
I wonder if you could possibly list some things that I can put in place to prevent my daughter from turning up at my home unannounced please

Our Response:
This is a bit tricky to advise on without knowing the background information and why you do not wish your daughter to turn up unannounced and what the repercussions of her actions are. If, for instance, you are caring for your grandchild and you have a child arrangement order that gives you permission to do this, (some orders will make very specific arrangements for the child, other orders will be more open), and if your daughter is overstepping the terms laid out in the order, then she may be in breach. In which case you would have to take the matter back to court in order to have the terms enforced. If there are no such arrangments and your care is informal, then you could either start by asking her and if she refuses to respond suggest mediation. If the issue cannot be resolved through mediation, then you would have to take it to court. On the other hand, if your daughter is coming the to the house and causing disruption, then you may have to get the police involved. Please see Ask the Police link here which may help.
ProudGrandparents - 13-Apr-16 @ 11:17 AM
I wonder if you could possibly list some things that I can put in place to prevent my daughter from turning up at my home unannounced please
grandmother3 - 12-Apr-16 @ 10:07 AM
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