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Taking Legal Custody of Grandchildren

By: Elizabeth Grace - Updated: 4 Sep 2018 | comments*Discuss
 
Child Custody Family Law Custody

Worldwide there are literally millions of kids being raised by their grandparents because of their parents' inability to care for them. While guardianship is sometimes a temporary situation, there are many instances of grandparents taking full and permanent custody of grandkids.

Making it Forever

Children thrive on consistency and stability, so when parents are unable or unwilling to provide a safe and nurturing environment for their kids, the responsibility often falls to the grandparents. When a situation demands that long-term or even permanent arrangements be made for a child's care, grandparents must be meticulous to ensure that they take all of the proper steps, assuring their rights as well as protecting the rights of their grandchild. The sense of security that the children have from knowing they are in a permanent, stable home can help them to excel socially and academically, so it is important that they not be repeatedly uprooted.

Legal Council

The single most important step that grandparents can take in assuring that they proceed wisely in taking custody of their grandchildren is to seek advice from a lawyer, preferably one who specialises in family law. The process can be complicated, but a good solicitor can make the procedure far less confusing. Ideally, a lawyer should be hired right from the beginning so as to instruct grandparents on the best course of action. Even if brought in during the middle of proceedings, though, grandparents should not finalise any custody agreements without legal advice, since going it alone increases the chances that errors will be made.

Seeking Supportive People

Often, when there is a need for grandparents to raise their grandchildren, the kids have been through some sort of trauma. Whether neglect, abuse, parental illness, or some other reason is at the root of the decision to seek custody, it is wise to enlist the help of social workers, neighbours, teachers and school or law enforcement officials who have first hand knowledge of the family's situation. Sworn statements that reinforce not only the need for a child's permanent removal from their parents' custody but also recommendations that the grandparents are good candidates for guardianship can be helpful, especially if the kids' parents object to relinquishing custody of the children.

Ideally, parents who are unable to properly care for their children would be cooperative in allowing the grandparents to provide loving homes, but it is common for the generations to battle. Having the support of other interested parties can help ensure the best outcome for the children in what is sure to be a very difficult situation.

Documentation

While it may feel disloyal for grandparents to speak publicly against their adult children, they may have no other option when it comes to protecting their vulnerable grandchildren. Documenting every incident that supports the stance that the children's parents are unfit will help grandparents to prove their case, if the need should arise. Keeping track of specific dates and occurrences of inappropriate parental behaviour, along with the effect that it had on the children, can help grandparents to protect their grandchildren and give them a safe, loving and permanent home.

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[Add a Comment]
Bug - Your Question:
My grandaughter will be 13 next month. She has lived with me for 10 of those years. Her father has been absent from her life for 8 of those years. He has been in and out of jail, has several felons and is a recovering addict. My daughter is an addict and has not provided my granddaughter with anything and has been to see her off and on the last year. Her dad got out of jail 01/2017. In March we began letting him see her to establish a relationship with her. He is 30,000 behind in support. Anyway, he took her on an overnight stay on July 14, 2018 and has not brought her home and will not let us talk to her or see her until court. my granddaughter has been in trouble at our house for some serious issues on social media. we were about to get her counseling due to the fact that both her parents have failed her. We live in the state of Fl and he took her to Al. He has given her a cell phone and has a fiance and life is like Disneyland there. Do I have a chance of getting her back her to Florida and maybe share some kind of custody with him?

Our Response:
Unfortunately, we are unable to answer your question as we are a UK-based site with knowledge only of UK-based family law. You would have to seek US family law advice.
ProudGrandparents - 6-Sep-18 @ 12:11 PM
My grandaughter will be 13 next month. She has lived with me for 10 of those years. Her father has been absent from her life for 8 of those years. He has been in and out of jail, has several felons and is a recovering addict. My daughter is an addict and has not provided my granddaughterwith anything and has been to see her off and on the last year. Her dad got out of jail 01/2017. In March we began letting him see her to establish a relationship with her. He is 30,000 behind in support. Anyway, he took her on an overnight stay on July 14, 2018 and has not brought her home and will not let us talk to her or see her until court. my granddaughter has been in trouble at our house for some serious issues on social media. we were about to get her counseling due to the fact that both her parents have failed her. We live in the state of Fl and he took her to Al. He has given her a cell phone and has a fiance and life is like Disneyland there. Do i have a chance of getting her back her to Florida and maybe share some kind of custody with him?
Bug - 4-Sep-18 @ 8:54 PM
Please can you give me some advice. My single 34 yr old daughter is 20 weeks pregnant and has decided that she wants to put her baby up for adoption. I am devastated and wondered if it would be possible for me to foster the baby instead of her being adopted. I'm67 but am fully mobile and love this baby before she is even born. I worked as a nursery nurse for 34yrs and have my sons little ones on a regular basis so Idon't want my daughters child to be raised by someone else. Thank you.
Dennydee - 23-Aug-18 @ 8:20 AM
Delaney69 - Your Question:
Hi.my husband and I have special guardianship over our grandchildren. this was granted incase my daughter put the children in danger as she had previously.At the time the childrens absent father wasnt around. He had left with no explanation.5 years on and hes back on the scene only sees the children when he feels like it.The question I ask is.should my daughter mess up again.would the children be cared for by my husband and I or has there father got more rights than us thanx

Our Response:
The father has a right to contest/challenge the current arrangement through court. However, the courts opt for consistency and stability and it is unlikely the courts would remove your grandchildren and hand them over to a person who has played little part in their lives to date.
ProudGrandparents - 6-Aug-18 @ 2:12 PM
@Delaney69 Hi, my understanding of a Special Guardianship Order is that by law you and your husband have full parental responsibility over your grandchildren, therefore any conflict regarding birth parent contact would need to be dealt with in the court arena if detrimental to the children involved. If a social worker still involved seek guidance from them or if applicable perhaps mediation could be the way forward.
Curlytop - 4-Aug-18 @ 5:33 PM
Hi..my husband and ihave special guardianship over ourgrandchildren. this was grantedincase my daughter put the children in danger as she had previously. At the time the childrens absent father wasnt around. He had left with no explanation. 5 years onand hes back on the scene only sees the children when he feels like it. The question i ask is....should my daughter mess up again...would the children be cared for by my husband and iorhas there father got more rights than us thanx
Delaney69 - 4-Aug-18 @ 10:11 AM
My grandson is now living with use as under a child protection order social services and courts involvedwe've got parental Wright through this now could we seek to through this process to make it permanent
Sam4301 - 20-Jul-18 @ 11:03 PM
@mishlew...a child arrangement order would give you shared PR with birth parents, but allowing the child to remain with you. A special guardianship order would give you greater PR, you would need to inform children's services of your intention 3 months prior to making an application to court.
Curlytop - 18-Jul-18 @ 8:53 PM
I've been looking after my granddaughter since she was 6 months old her mother lived with us for 2 years then moved out to live with her new partner my granddaughter is now 6years old and still with me my daughter wants me to go in for parental responsibility or adoption we r in agreement with everything just wondering if it will run smonth
Mishlew - 18-Jul-18 @ 3:15 PM
@Jan56 Thankyou. My biggest piece of advice would be to stay focused on the children. No doubt you will get lot's of 'advise' from other parties involved, some positive, alot negative but the main aim of what we're doing is to secure the future of these innocent children. Did I expect to be doing this at my time of life ? Never in a million year's. Would I have it any other way ? Absolutely not. What's the saying.when life throws you lemons.make a huge wonderful jug of lemonade, good luck ??
Curlytop - 18-Jul-18 @ 9:29 AM
@Curlytop - well done! Thanks for letting us know. I'm going through the process currently and hoping it's all going to turn out OK. Any tips on getting the process to run smoothly would be more thn welcome.
Jan56 - 17-Jul-18 @ 9:50 AM
I am very pleased to say that after a very long year, my husband and I we're given a Special guardianship order for our two grandchildren. I did all the paperwork and although very intense, it is possible to complete an application by yourselves, so for any one going through this emotional roller coaster, hang in there, anything is possible ????
Curlytop - 16-Jul-18 @ 2:28 PM
Can I apply for guardian ship if an unborn child if the mother agrees, I have guardianship of the first child
Mammy T - 23-Jun-18 @ 1:04 AM
Worriedmum - Your Question:
Can a grandparent get custody of my kids just because we no longer speak even tho I’ve offered for her to see them.My kids are safe healthy and well looked after and very young, but she is threatening to take them off me

Our Response:
It is highly unlikely that a grandparent would be awarded custody of your children through a court. They are your children and only those (i.e mother and father) who have parental responsibility are entitled to care for them.
ProudGrandparents - 21-Jun-18 @ 3:01 PM
Can a grandparent get custody of my kids just because we no longer speak even tho I’ve offered for her to see them. My kids are safe healthy and well looked after and very young, but she is threatening to take them off me
Worriedmum - 21-Jun-18 @ 1:15 AM
ive raised my grandson from birth. now they are taking custody of him. im heartbroken. plz help
so sad - 19-Jun-18 @ 12:51 AM
Can my mum adopt her grandchildren even thought my dad has passed away? Her grandchildren are my sisters kids but they live with us and we want to adopt them.
Dobo510 - 13-Jun-18 @ 4:10 PM
@WendyH.Good luck for Friday, my court date is 16th July for sgo of my 2 grandsons. It's been a long year, child arrangement order was given to us in December, we notified social care of our intention in January, after a long, intense assessment, we we're given a positive referral from social care, so hopefully, as also uncontested, we will be boy's legal guardian's soon.
Curlytop - 13-Jun-18 @ 12:38 PM
Tooks - Your Question:
Hi I have residence order for my 6yr old grandson. He been in our care since he was 4ks old when his mom (my daughter) left. He has just been diagnosed with FAS (foetal alcohol syndrome). Can I adopt him

Our Response:
Both birth parents normally have to agree (consent) to the adoption unless hey can’t be found, or they’re incapable of giving consent, eg due to a mental disability, or the child would be put at risk if they weren’t adopted. If you are a close relative and the child has lived with you for three years in the past five years, you can apply to adopt the child, please see link here for more information.
ProudGrandparents - 12-Jun-18 @ 11:40 AM
#Tooks....from my experience, courts prefer for family members to apply for special guardianship orders rather than adoption. Sgo will give you total parental responsibility whilst allowing access to birth parents should you want that, whereas adoption would mean no birth family contact until child reaches 18. Inform children's services asap of your intention as they have to access you which can take up to 5 months ( my experience). Good luck ??
Curlytop - 12-Jun-18 @ 10:11 AM
Hi I have residence order for my 6yr old grandson. He been in our care since he was 4ks old when his mom (my daughter) left . He has just been diagnosed with FAS (foetal alcohol syndrome) . Can I adopt him
Tooks - 11-Jun-18 @ 10:19 AM
WendyH - Your Question:
Hi I'm going for legal guardianship of my great grandaughter,the court hearing is on Friday 14th of June,I've not really had much feed back from social services except for them saying that there's no reason why I shouldn't be able to have her my grandaughter and the baby's father are not going to contest and want me to have her,I'm 57 and the baby is 10 month's old,can anyone tell me what will happen at the hearing and what to expect,thank you.

Our Response:
The family court is less formal than other types of courts. You will be allowed to speak first. If you are represented by a solicitor, they will do this on your behalf. This opening statement basically sets out what your application is and why you are making it. Cafcass/social workers will also be involved. If the other side doesn't oppose the application, then this will benefit your case. The judges or magistrates will ask questions of either party to clarify certain matters, if appropriate. You may be called to give evidence, meaning you will talk about any statement you have made under oath. We cannot speculate what a court may decide. Obviously, other there may be other considerations to explore. As in all cases, the court’s main concern is the welfare of the child in question. The court will always put the child’s best interests first and this main issue will determine the outcome of any application for an order.
ProudGrandparents - 7-Jun-18 @ 10:34 AM
Hi I'm going for legal guardianship of my great grandaughter,the court hearing is on Friday 14th of June,I've not really had much feed back from social services except for them saying that there's no reason why I shouldn't be able to have her my grandaughter and the baby's father are not going to contest and want me to have her,I'm 57 and the baby is 10 month's old,can anyone tell me what will happen at the hearing and what to expect,thank you.
WendyH - 6-Jun-18 @ 2:31 PM
@Radox - has social services not had you in mind for a special guardianship order? SS will always look at who in the family can care for the child first before pushing for adoption outside the family. I have one for my g/d, social services came to me first.
Tina - 26-Apr-18 @ 2:03 PM
My three year old grandson has officially been put up for adoption due to our daughters alcoholism..... Can we adopt him? I'm 65 my wife (his biological grandmother) is 62?
Radox - 24-Apr-18 @ 6:39 PM
@MamaLani - no, you don't have any rights over the child. But, you can refuse the father access and he would ahve to take the matter to court. The police will not take your granddaughter from you. If the father has been in an out of jail and only is in his child's life intermittently, it is highly doubtful that he would be allowed residency of your grandchild, or possibly even access. The court will want to maintain consistency, so it might actually work out in your favour if it has to go to court as you might be able to apply for residency. I'd go see a solicitor who can tell you your rights.
AnyaN - 20-Apr-18 @ 11:16 AM
In this day and age with all problems of young people having children, not able to provide or give necessary attention and time to child, laws should change so child's are not harmed. Thus the cycle will continue. Put the child's first I beg of you who made the child. ..please.
Rugby - 18-Apr-18 @ 9:28 AM
@MamaLani, I can only speak from my experience but unfortunately, grandparents have very few rights, has dad got any terms set on his release ?? Is he on birth certificate ?? Is social care involved ?? If you feel your granddaughter is at any 'risk' then perhaps social care could be involved, perhaps a mutual contact arrangement could be in place....as grandparents, we have to apply to court for permission to apply for any order. Lots of free advice online, best wishes ??
Curlytop - 15-Apr-18 @ 3:00 PM
My granddaughter turns 4 this year and she has been with me all of her life. Her father left when she was 5 months old, got into drugs and has been in and out of jail. My daughter(her mother) was living under my roof and my husband and I have been helping her raise our granddaughter. About 7 months ago my daughter moved out with her current boyfriend and she left my granddaughter with me because she knew she was in good hands and a stable home. Also, she was living her own life and I have been taking care of her. My granddaughter's father got out of jail two weeks and has been popping up to our home to see her. My daughter has been ignoring his calls and his wishes for visitations. Now, he's demanding to take my granddaughter for the day and that's his right as her father. She has barely met him two weeks ago and is already wanting to pick her up and drop her off later. He has threatened to get this police involved in getting my granddaughter. I plan to seek legal advice on monday but I'm so worried of what my chances are of winning custody of my granddaughter. As I mentioned, she has been with me all her life and she calls me, MOM and my husband, DAD. We are all she knows as far as who her parents are. Her father has been absent all her life and her mother has never been around in caring for her.
MamaLani - 14-Apr-18 @ 10:37 PM
@Rhiannon, special guardianship would be the way to go, courts are less likely to grant grandparents an adoption order as they would want children to maintain a certain amount of contact with birth parents which a special guardianship order would allow. It would still give you total parental responsibility, conditions include...you cannot change children's name or remove them from the country for more than 3 months. You would need to make your local authority (social care) aware of your intention, they assess you which takes up to three months, then you apply to court (or apply for permission to apply) Good Luck ??
Curlytop - 14-Apr-18 @ 6:56 PM
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