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Taking Legal Custody of Grandchildren

By: Elizabeth Grace - Updated: 24 Apr 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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@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
@Em3011 - your grandparents sound like lovely people. But now you are 18 and do not have to have parental responsibility handed over, it may not apply. You'd probably have to ask a solicitor. Maybe your grandparents could legally adopt you now. That might work. If you want your GParents to become your legal guardians because of financial reasons and your parents still won't sign anything, you would have to apply to court......if you are eligible.
SaMV - 9-Apr-18 @ 1:45 PM
Hi, I’m 19 years old and have lived with my grandparents since I was 3 months old. My grandparents are not however my legal guardians as my mum wouldn’t sign the papers when I was a baby. Now I’m over 18, is there any way I can change it so that my grandparents become my legal guardians?
Em3011 - 8-Apr-18 @ 7:28 PM
Jojo- Your Question:
I’ve had my grandchildren for 3 years and am there guardian can any of the parents take us to court to try and get them back

Our Response:
The parents will always have rights to apply to court to try to get their children back (unless a court order prevents this). 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 - 6-Apr-18 @ 11:37 AM
I’ve had my grandchildren for 3 years and am there guardian can any of the parents take us to court to try and get them back
Jojo - 5-Apr-18 @ 6:29 PM
son and his partner have three sons.1, 2 and 3 years old.youngest suffered an unexplained seizure at 6 weeks and is now severely brain damaged.Social services are now insisting parents attend a residential assessment.if it all goes wrong, can I adopt the three children?I am single, aged 57, own my own house. how do i go about this?
Rhiannon - 29-Mar-18 @ 2:35 PM
@Angie....as grandparents we have no automatic right to look after our grandchildren, if you wish to care for your grandson make your intention known to his social worker asap, then apply to the court for permission to apply for a child arrangement order, this will allow your grandson to reside with you whilst sharing PR with both parents, to secure your grandson's future you could consider a special guardianship order giving you full PR, lots of information online, we are currently in that process, best wishes.
Curlytop - 19-Mar-18 @ 1:54 PM
My daughter is with a man who takes drugs and beats her and she has just had my grandchild who is 5week old she always puts her boyfriend first she and my grandson has just moved in with me my grandson is on the at risk register I don't know what to do my grandson social worker said if she dosent start putting my grandson first he will go into care but I won't to know whathat rights as grandparent do me and my husband have to look after our grandson
Angie - 16-Mar-18 @ 5:15 PM
Lex - Your Question:
My daughter is moving out and into a home with a drug dealer and he has anger issues my granddaughter is not his, I have begged my daughter not to go but she see's he doing nothing wrong I am really concerned about my granddaughters safety can I go for guardianship or what can I do?

Our Response:
Unfortunately, unless you see your granddaughter is being neglected or harmed as a result there is little you can do. Many children live in functional/ semi-functional homes with drug users and addicts. The best thing you can do, is try to keep a close eye on your granddaughter to ensure she is not coming to any harm. Continuing to comminicate with your daughter will also help and perhaps volunteering to have your granddaughter more may also help.
ProudGrandparents - 26-Feb-18 @ 11:07 AM
My daughter is moving out and into a home with a drug dealer and he has anger issues my granddaughter is not his, i have begged my daughter not to go but she see's he doing nothing wrong i am really concerned about my granddaughters safety can i go for guardianship or what can i do?
Lex - 25-Feb-18 @ 5:20 PM
@Jools45 - you would have to apply to the courts for legal adoption.
SeanSD - 2-Feb-18 @ 10:18 AM
My grandson was a concealed pregnancy we have had him since he was born I have residency order he is now 14 and now wants us to adopt him how do we go about it
Jools45 - 1-Feb-18 @ 1:43 PM
I have applied for guardianshipof my3 grandchildrenif I refuse to circulatethe notes in court can i be taken off the proceedings and not be allowed to care forthem
Renee223456 - 29-Jan-18 @ 3:52 PM
Can I refuse to share my medical records in court will they remove my request for guardianship because off it
Renee223456 - 29-Jan-18 @ 3:49 PM
I'm so grateful my dad has my 5yr old daughter I'm a disgrace a selfish girl! After 8 years in and out of jail with a heroin and cocaine addiction in a violent relationship with her father. I changed my life completely falling pregnant made food from scratch no baby food dedicated my whole life to my miracle pulled away left her father as he never changed I grew stronger and stronger through her love I have never felt so content or happy I done everything not jut right but perfect completely. He was in and out of jail hurting her every time she was a daddies girl I supervised visits daily or a member or my family would in my home while I went for my run 3-6miles depending in how much time I had this is how I coped. It showed in her behaviour when she was 2yrs he went for around 10months she became different hitting out when he was realised having no where to go I agrees he could stay for only 1 week. Mistakenly sleeping with him he gained control over me again violent in front of her out of his face at weekends shouting through letter box put front door through holding me for few days having to act normal when she wakes in morning like he was ment to be here. Had dead lock fitted eventually reporting Innocent's to police he starts climbing up block of flats breaking in thru windows unable to deal with this I get my addiction back using with him I lost my baby girl the love of my life thru domestic violence putting her at risk I admitted using drugs never lied so that never helped all professionals in child protection meeting back me I should keep kid I found out half 5 that night I'm in court next day for kid never had solicitor or paper work till the morning of court 17hours after being told I'm in court , I'm toblame for not staying as strong as I had become my mother is a drug addict I know what its like not having ur mum little that males me horrible!!
Debs - 29-Jan-18 @ 4:27 AM
@Reyna, through personal experience, grandparents have no legal right over their grandchildren. Parents on the birth certificate share parental responsibility, grandparents have to apply for PR, firstly getting permission to apply from court. My advice would be to document everything, perhaps contact free online advice.
Curlytop - 13-Jan-18 @ 5:19 PM
My daughter lives bang across from her partners mother .over 5 years my granddaughter has gradually stayed more and more at her other grandparents house. Firstly as a help when her baby brother came along then the grandmother got cancer and wanted her granddaughter there until my granddaughter was living at the other grandmothers house for one reason or another. My daughter still took her daughter to school took her on holidays and my granddaughter came home sometimes and stayed with her mother and brother and dad. They were in contact every day and have a normal mother daughter relationship. My daughter and her partner are splitting up and my daughter is moving away with the kids and her partners mother has threatened to take both children off her. She came to my daughters house and told her she was taking the kids and that my granddaughter did not want to live with her as she was frightened which was a lie. On hearing this my daughter lost it and screamed at them to leave which they refused so my daughter phoned the police and they were asked to leave. My daughters x partners mother filmed all this on her phone as my daughter totally broke down. They have money and my daughter does not and she is scared that she will take the children. My daughter is a good mother and her children are her life and has been there only provider as there father is a waste of space. We now realise that the grandmother instigated all this and filmed it for a court case what can my daughter do the grandmother is opsessed with my granddaughter .
REYNA - 12-Jan-18 @ 11:39 AM
@Ady 69 - sounds awful. I really feel for you. It's difficult to answer you because each case is different. I found social workers really helpful in my case. As it was my GS ended up staying with his parents - but I felt they gave us a lot of support. But, at the end of the day, they don't really want to remove the child from the parents unless there is no other option, so that's way it looks as though they are favouring the parents.
Jan - 11-Dec-17 @ 2:06 PM
@Curlytop - good advice here. Absolutely, the best thing is to monitor everything, write everything down and log every conversation etc. Do your own minutes and beat them at their own game!
Mutch78 - 7-Dec-17 @ 11:05 AM
@Ady69 my experience with social care is 2 fold. I am a foster carer for LA but this year, due to my daughter making some dreadful decisions, I became responsible for 2 of my 4 grandchildren (2 with their dad). I have seen both sides of the coin as such and I would have to say, social care around my grandchildren have been to say the least....disappointing. With one s/w saying one thing and another completely different, visits requested within an hour, incomplete and incorrect minutes from formal meetings, I could go on but you get the picture, so I completely understand your frustration. I did get legal advice initially but completed all court paperwork myself, concluding Monday with a residence order in my favour. My advice is write down everything, keep notes on everything, even put social care conversations on loud speaker (with witnesses) try and stay positive, these little people need us.
Curlytop - 6-Dec-17 @ 2:31 PM
My grandson is on the verge of being forcibly removed from his mothers care and placed with us. His father (our son) is still being assessed. Social services have been involved in his life from day 1 and we have already had a kinship care assessment done three years ago, which resulted in us losing all contact with him and him remaining in the care of his mother Following an issue with mothers new boyfriend who throttled him (and still lives there!) we are now once agin back in the picture although we still have had no contact with him Our issues are as much with Social Services who have used the threat of us 'taking' our grandchild to make his mother comply with assessments and who seemingly lie to us on a regular basis or fail to keep up to agreements to simply keep us in the loop. We have once agin put our life on hold with no guarantee anything will change. Has anyone else as a grandparent had awful experiences with Social Services using them and lying to them to ensure compliance from a birth parent. We are completely at our wits end with the process. Ady
Ady 69 - 5-Dec-17 @ 1:44 PM
My grandson is on the verge of being forcibly removed from his mothers care and placed with us. His father (our son) is still being assessed. Social services have been involved in his life from day 1 and we have already had a kinship care assessment done three years ago, which resulted in us losing all contact with him and him remaining in the care of his mother Following an issue with mothers new boyfriend who throttled him (and still lives there!) we are now once agin back in the picture although we still have had no contact with him Our issues are as much with Social Services who have used the threat of us 'taking' our grandchild to make his mother comply with assessments and who seemingly lie to us on a regular basis or fail to keep up to agreements to simply keep us in the loop. We have once agin put our life on hold with no guarantee anything will change. Has anyone else as a grandparent had awful experiences with Social Services using them and lying to them to ensure compliance from a birth parent. We are completely at our wits end with the process. Ady
Ady 69 - 5-Dec-17 @ 1:02 PM
@Curlytop - that's great news! It gives us all hope. I haven't seen my grandchild for five months. A court case is going through. This has just boosted my hopes no end. Well done!
HeatherK - 4-Dec-17 @ 3:31 PM
So, 2nd court hearing this morning to get child arrangement order for my 3 & 5 yr old grandchildren, judge gave me the order, to say I am happy is an understatement, best Christmas present I could ever ask for. Been along few months but finally seeing a light at the end of the tunnel ????. It can be done, don't loose hope.
Curlytop - 4-Dec-17 @ 1:39 PM
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