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Taking Legal Custody of Grandchildren

By: Elizabeth Grace - Updated: 6 Dec 2017 | 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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@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
SDH1969 - Your Question:
My 7yr old grandson has lived with me his entire life, he goes to his dads on the weekends and holidays but my home is his home and always has been. His mother died when he was four. Everything has been fine until recently when his father decided he wanted him to live with him. My grandson doesn't want to move, he cried when his father told him. I have no legal rights, is there anything I can do to keep him with me?

Our Response:
You would have to seek legal advice regarding this matter. The fact you have been his primary carer for three years will rule in your favour for parental responsibility and a residence order. However, it will be up to the court to decide. 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 - 28-Nov-17 @ 1:40 PM
My 7yr old grandson has lived with me his entire life, he goes to his dads on the weekends and holidays but my home is his home and always has been. His mother died when he was four. Everything has been fine until recently when his father decided he wanted him to live with him. My grandson doesn't want to move, he cried when his father told him. I have no legal rights, is there anything I can do to keep him with me?
SDH1969 - 27-Nov-17 @ 1:35 AM
@armchairandy- only parents can apply for parental responsibility of a child and therefore shared care. Why would you need to apply for shared care, if you have a lot to do with your granddaughter anyway?
CathyC - 16-Nov-17 @ 12:06 PM
Hi I need some advice my daughter is a single parent and we have played a very large part in my grand daughter live since she has been born.My daughter wants us to apply for joint custody is that possible.
armchairandy - 15-Nov-17 @ 6:15 PM
My daughter had my granddaughter removed from her care, and was made to hand her over to her father, my daughter refused to leave her partner who has a history of domestic violence towards an ex partner and served a prison sentence, my granddaughter is 7 and has always lived with her mother, my granddaughters father has also been to prison for drug dealing, had a history of drug dealing, domestic violence thou unsure if documented, albeit a recent text from an ex wife claiming he had on a previous occasion arrived armed with knives threatening his ex wife and child on Xmas day, the incident was not reported as it was Xmas day, my granddaughter who now resides with her dad and current partner has told me they always arguing and falling out, and that his girlfriend had cooked dinner and her dad had thrown the dinner on the floor and his cup of tea? I have tried to inform s/s of my concerns but were told that if I do say anything she would have to speak to my granddaughters dad and it would be up to him if I see my granddaughter, I have been put in a terrible position and I don’t know what to do, I have basically been told if I want to have any future contact I’m to shut up, I have had my granddaughter almost every weekend and one evening in the week, for a number of months?and have cared and looked after her and loved her since she was born, please help
Nannygran - 7-Nov-17 @ 9:16 PM
Nearly 2 yrs ago my daughter and partner split up they have five children and my eldest granddaughter went to live with dad about a yr ago and his parentssince then his mother has been diagnosed with cancer and he has also moved into a new relationship and spends his time with new gf and her kids recently he accused my granddaughter of making his mum Ill and due to she moved out of her mum's she now just argues with her younger siblings she wants to move in with me her mum is happy for that to happen and I'd rather not do it through courts etc but can I still claim for child benefit etcif it's just a agreement between me and her mum
Loulou - 3-Nov-17 @ 2:58 PM
Hi Stage 1 completed, court yesterday to get residence order for 3 and 5 year old grandchildren. Judge granted me permission to procede, CAFCASS to do their job then final hearing few weeks time, I did all court paper work my self, as solicitor £200 per hour, looks daunting but just take your time, my was done as a matter of urgency so hearing date took 5 days to set, court was fine also. Hope to have order in place by Christmas.
Curlytop - 24-Oct-17 @ 8:37 AM
My sons partner had her son taken off her 3 years ago due to a one off incident that she was taken to court for and charged. Now they are expecting a child in a matter of weeks and social services have just got involved staying that she never told her midwife of the past issues ( she was never asked and assumed it was on her notes) they are moving house next week therefore social services can not check the babies bedroom out cos it's not done yet. The social are having a legal meeting today that they knew nothing about its the midwife that told them today and suggested they both get solicitors!!What can I do as a grandparent to get the baby in my care and I will move in with them til things get sorted.
Sky - 23-Oct-17 @ 4:55 PM
Hi A few months have passed, so Monday I have court to get a child arrangement order for my two grandchildren as they we're placed on child protection plan back in August. Advised by social care this was an option to remove them from the plan, it now seems that even with a residence order they will not be removed from plan until next April (cpp review), yet we we're specifically told to go get the orders asap, I am a foster carer for the same local authority so all safeguarding is up to date, can I ask for the review to be brought forward ????
Curlytop - 19-Oct-17 @ 10:34 AM
Red - Your Question:
I've had my paternal granddaughter for the majority of her nearly 21 months. There's been the odd few days/nights where she's been with her parents. After they split up, I was handed GD & the mother never discussed when she would next visit. She would text on & off to arrange to visit but, would then change her mind or get "belly ache". She had GD overnight once & called me at gone midnight to pick GD up as she wouldn't settle & the new fella was sick of GD crying. I got a taxi & the mother stunk of booze. Brought GD back here & she's had the odd hour here & there with her on her own. My son also has drink & drug problems & they have both on different occasions attacked me. Mother when I had hold of my GD son when he had hold of GD. Police & social services have been involved a few times. GD mother has never given me any money or even bought a nappy. When son has money he does give me money & buys stuff for GD. I live with my mum in a 1 bed flat. GD has a cot in bedroom with my mum. I sleep on sofa. I've been looking for a 3 bed house & the council have told me I need to prove I'm in receipt of child benefit before they will offer me a 3 bed house. I told GD mother who, is now ok with this & through social services we were working on a special guardianship order.Last week GD mother took GD to Leeds from Manchester to visit family. I waited all day for her to get back to me about a time she was dropping GD back off to me. The maternal gran told me, GD was now living with her in Leeds & I'll never see her again. Social services drove to Leeds & came back without GD. He said the other gran has a big 3 bed house & he has no worries GD will come to harm so, I have to leave her there (GD mother, only stayed in Leeds for few hours, it was all planned between them). The GD mother is now hounding me with abusive texts & so is the other gran. They are demanding money £50 a week from my son. He is not on the birth cert as the other gran said he had to prove he was a good dad who could show he was financially stable enough to support his daughter before her daughter would put sons name on GD birth cert. We have a special bond & GD had her own little network of family & friends here. She's only known me & my mum to be the constant ones in her life. My mum has early on set dementia & having GD her was such a good thing for her. This past week she is so much more confused & is so upset & fretting. I'm lost & broken. Can anyone help please?

Our Response:
I am sorry to hear this. But without having parental responsibility, there is little you can do unfortunately as you are not the legal parent. As your son is the father of the child, then regardless whether he is on the birth certificate or not, by law your son (if he earning) has to pay child maintenance to help support his son, please see link here . You may wish to seek legal advice, but both your son and your son's ex are the only ones with legal rights to care for your granddaughter. Your son may be able to apply for residency of his child through the courts, but much would depend upon his own personal circumstances and how much day-to-day input he has had in respect to caring for his child.
ProudGrandparents - 21-Sep-17 @ 11:20 AM
I've had my paternal granddaughter for the majority of her nearly 21 months. There's been the odd few days/nights where she's been with her parents. After they split up, I was handed GD & the mother never discussed when she would next visit. She would text on & off to arrange to visit but, would then change her mind or get "belly ache". She had GD overnight once & called me at gone midnight to pick GD up as she wouldn't settle & the new fella was sick of GD crying. I got a taxi & the mother stunk of booze. Brought GD back here & she's had the odd hour here & there with her on her own. My son also has drink & drug problems & they have both on different occasions attacked me. Mother when I had hold of my GD son when he had hold of GD. Police & social services have been involved a few times. GD mother has never given me any money or even bought a nappy. When son has money he does give me money & buys stuff for GD. I live with my mum in a 1 bed flat. GD has a cot in bedroom with my mum. I sleep on sofa. I've been looking for a 3 bed house & the council have told me I need to prove I'm in receipt of child benefit before they will offer me a 3 bed house. I told GD mother who, is now ok with this & through social services we were working on a special guardianship order. Last week GD mother took GD to Leeds from Manchester to visit family. I waited all day for her to get back to me about a time she was dropping GD back off to me. The maternal gran told me, GD was now living with her in Leeds & I'll never see her again. Social services drove to Leeds & came back without GD. He said the other gran has a big 3 bed house & he has no worries GD will come to harm so, I have to leave her there (GD mother, only stayed in Leeds for few hours, it was all planned between them). The GD mother is now hounding me with abusive texts & so is the other gran. They are demanding money £50 a week from my son. He is not on the birth cert as the other gran said he had to prove he was a good dad who could show he was financially stable enough to support his daughter before her daughter would put sons name on GD birth cert. We have a special bond & GD had her own little network of family & friends here. She's only known me & my mum to be the constant ones in her life. My mum has early on set dementia & having GD her was such a good thing for her. This past week she is so much more confused & is so upset & fretting. I'm lost & broken. Can anyone help please?
Red - 20-Sep-17 @ 2:14 AM
Bear - Your Question:
Please help! I am constantly heartbroken every week I return my grandson. He is 4 years old and lives with his mother who is not my daughter. I have him every weekend and all of the school holidays last year I had him for 6 months. Every time I take him home he cries really sobbing asking me to take him home ( meaning my home) his mother is young, but there is no bond. She shouts, smacks and swears at him. He has no place to play. He needs to do most things himself. He goes to bed alone etc. She sleeps in every morning and he doesn't wake her to avoid being shouted at. She tells him off for crying for me. Everything he has at my home if won't take it home. I have been to social services twice and they have closed the case. I know neglect and emotional abuse is very difficult to prove but it's breaking my heart to see my grandson emotionally damaged. He never looks happy there. My son cannot have him and again immature. If I go to court she will stop me seeing him and I know then he will suffer more. Please help me.

Our Response:
Unless there is strong evidence that your grandson is in danger and is being neglected, then the court/social service cannot do anything. You may wish to speak to the NSPCC via the link here , but I'm afraid until there is a situation where the mother is proven that she cannot look after her child there is little you can do. I can only advise you to encourage the mother to leave your grandson in your care more often.
ProudGrandparents - 14-Sep-17 @ 2:30 PM
Please help! I am constantly heartbroken every week I return my grandson. He is 4 years old and lives with his mother who is not my daughter. I have him every weekend and all of the school holidays last year I had him for 6 months. Every time I take him home he cries really sobbing asking me to take him home ( meaning my home) his mother is young, but there is no bond. She shouts, smacks and swears at him. He has no place to play. He needs to do most things himself. He goes to bed alone etc. She sleeps in every morning and he doesn't wake her to avoid being shouted at. She tells him off for crying for me. Everything he has at my home if won't take it home. I have been to social services twice and they have closed the case. I know neglect and emotional abuse is very difficult to prove but it's breaking my heart to see my grandson emotionally damaged. He never looks happy there. My son cannot have him and again immature. If I go to court she will stop me seeing him and I know then he will suffer more. Please help me.
Bear - 14-Sep-17 @ 1:57 AM
pat - Your Question:
Can a grandmother put her name on the grandson birth certificate if my daughter pass a way yes or no

Our Response:
No, only the biological parents can register their names on their child's birth certificate.
ProudGrandparents - 11-Sep-17 @ 4:36 PM
can a grandmotherput her name on the grandson birth certificate if my daughterpass a way yes or no
pat - 9-Sep-17 @ 8:46 PM
fave - Your Question:
4 years ago myself and my husband were awarded a residence order for my Grandson as the Mother and her partner were constantly getting into physical fights and despite Social Services intervention they could not resolve their issues.3 weeks ago I allowed my Grandson to spend some time with his Mom and siblings, however it was only meant to be a few days and when I wanted him to come home I was finding it increasingly difficult to have him returned as the boyfriend (not the father) of my Grandson was constantly preventing me from speaking with him. I did eventually get to speak with him where he told me he did not want to live with me and his Grandad anymore.I am heart broken as we cared for him since the day he was born as she never wanted him. I have phoned police social services and even been back to court but because the actual court order giving us residence can't be found, we are having to go through the courts again and he has remained with his Mother.Will I get him returned or shall I respect his wishes as he is only 8 and has been spoilt with games and gadgets as My Daughter as just come into money. I fear I will never see my Grandson again.

Our Response:
I am sorry to hear this. However, it will be up to the court to decide first and foremost what it thinks is in the best interests of your grandchild. If you have had a residence order since the child was young, usually the courts would insist on consistency and routine. However, if the child's mother can prove her circumstances have changed, then she may stand a chance of getting your grandson back. You would really have to seek legal advice if you can and attempt to prove why it is not in your grandson's best interests to be given back to his parent. Cafcass will get involved and it’s their job to interview both parents in the case, as well as the child, and any others who might be needed, which could mean social workers, medical professionals, or other relatives. The court will almost invariably adhere to the Cafcass report when making a decision based on where your grandson should reside. I'm afraid this doesn't really answer your question, but there is no predicting a judge's decision.
ProudGrandparents - 29-Aug-17 @ 2:05 PM
Shellywood - Your Question:
I had a close relationship with my granddaughter mum and her Dad when they split up. Now mum has met someone knew and contact has been made more difficult. Also we learn he's controlling and hit the children. Also mum has also been on social services radar and we didn't know. They have been placed in child protection emotional abuse. Is there any chance me and my husband could go for custody or is this a total none starter

Our Response:
You would need to speak directly to social services. Only if the children are taken from the parents may you be considered for residency.
ProudGrandparents - 29-Aug-17 @ 11:49 AM
4 years ago myself and my husband were awarded a residence order for my Grandson as the Mother and her partner were constantly getting into physical fights and despite Social Services intervention they could not resolve their issues. 3 weeks ago I allowed my Grandson to spend some time with his Mom and siblings, however it was only meant to be a few days and when I wanted him to come home I was finding it increasingly difficult to have him returned as the boyfriend (not the father) of my Grandson was constantly preventing me from speaking with him.I did eventually get to speak with him where he told me he did not want to live with me and his Grandad anymore. I am heart broken as we cared for him since the day he was born as she never wanted him. I have phoned police social services and even been back to court but because the actual court order giving us residence can't be found, we are having to go through the courts again and he has remained with his Mother. Will I get him returned or shall I respect his wishes as he is only 8 and has been spoilt with games and gadgets as My Daughter as just come into money. I fear I will never see my Grandson again.
fave - 27-Aug-17 @ 8:43 PM
I had a close relationship with my granddaughter mum and her Dad when they split up. Now mum has met someone knew and contact has been made more difficult. Also we learn he's controlling and hit the children. Also mum has also been on social services radar and we didn't know. They have been placed in child protection emotional abuse. Is there any chance me and my husband could go for custody or is this a total none starter
Shellywood - 27-Aug-17 @ 11:30 AM
Curlytop - Your Question:
2 grandchildren have same dad who is applying for residence order for them, 1 dad has pr for his son and is going for a residence order, 4th little one has no dad with pr and is the one we hope to get residence for, mother awol, all 4 on child protection plan, where do we start first ??

Our Response:
If you are a grandparent and children’s services become involved with your grandchildren then you may be entitled to be assessed for the right to care for your grandchild. Therefore, the first port of call is to speak with Children's Services directly. You can also see more via the Child Law Advice link here.
ProudGrandparents - 22-Aug-17 @ 10:19 AM
2 grandchildren have same dad who is applying for residence order for them, 1 dad has pr for his son and is going for a residence order, 4th little one has no dad with pr and is the one we hope to get residence for, mother awol, all 4 on child protection plan, where do we start first ??
Curlytop - 21-Aug-17 @ 12:24 PM
I have had my twin granddaughters sice they were a month old there mother drop them off to us with two bottle and 5 diapers the child protection steped in and put the children into foster care after 8 months due to fals allegation then in febuary of this year the courts returned them to us under a six month supervision order now the mother after 2and 1/2 years deceides she wants them nack but still dont provide for them we do do we have leagal grounds to fight for full custody
Tree - 10-Aug-17 @ 3:33 AM
My 4 grandchildren have just been put on a child protection plan, my dilemma is, do I step in to take the children now as I do not believe my daughter will change or do I wait until the LA go for a court order, which I feel is the way we are heading, so confused and tired, last worry on my mind when I go to sleep and first thought when I wake.
Curlytop - 9-Aug-17 @ 10:35 PM
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