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Taking Legal Custody of Grandchildren

By: Elizabeth Grace - Updated: 15 May 2020 | 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.


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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I have my son and his 9mth old daughter living with me as mum & dads relationship broke down in jan,they were all living with me so i.ve been apart of babys upbringing since she was born social services are very much involved as there young parents mum having mental health issues and not capable of caring for baby,parental responibility is now with my son because hes young and not able to care for baby on his own i am her main carer i.m heavily involved with social services i do the supervised visits with mum so she can have daily contact with baby(by thr request of soc ser) i have 2 statements from soc serv regarding her staying with me as i can meet her day to day needs were the parents cannot, i am in weekly contact with health visitor & social worker at present due to covid-19 mum as daily videocalls done by my son,mum as not took the guildlines of covid-19 on board, shes doing everything shes been told not to which is an example of her mental capacity, and this is were i.m stuck my son goes to uni in sept, he wants me to take over his PR i as babys grandmother whose seen to her every need since she was born & legally i cannot do anything i need to do something asap to put something in place as i av been reminded to often mum could come take baby and i couldnt stop her even though soc serv would interveen legally i cannot do anything,soc serv are talking about legal proceedings but have been for months and i.m no further forward i can.t wait till september its not fair on baby she needs someone eho can make the right decisions for her at present i can.t plz help what can i do.
Lynn_lexi - 15-May-20 @ 3:03 AM
I've just had a new baby but have my hands so full at home with 6 other children youngest been 11month the new baby is nearly 2 weeks old but I decided to leave her with my mum she was born very early and is tiny and needs alot of time an special care which I'm unable to provide I felt my mum is better able to give her everything she needs an has lots of 1 on 1 time for baby I would like my mum to keep her and raise her full time has her own how do i go about signing baby to my mum permanently if my mum will agree to have her who can I speak to about my decision I need to do what's best for baby in the long run an with having a full busy house this isn't right place for baby she is better living with her nana and I can see and visit has much has I like and stay part of her life
Mum of 7 - 7-May-20 @ 11:39 AM
I have a 5year old granddaughter who has been raised by myself and her auntie since 1 month old. Parents live in same house but have not been responsible for her. They are always using her as a weapon in their arguments . Both smoke weed. But dont seem to think bad parents, how do I as her grandmother with her aunt get legal guardianship of her as always threatening to take her away ,which upsets her. Causes uncomfortable atmosphere in home ,they want me to chuck them out with her .I have told council that they need to move but granddaughter doesnt want to go .help how do i get joint custody of her with her aunt.
marie dickens - 9-Apr-20 @ 10:12 PM
Hi,my son has a baby daughter,3 months old,mum has 2 other children taken into care,my granddaughter is in foster care because mum has been assessed and she cant keep her,and she is happy to sign her over to ss, my son is having visits weekly and ourselves, supervised, my problem is ,I want guardianship but ss say I have to foster her first,I'm getting visits from ss saying I will have to move home cos my house is to small,I do have my own child who's a girl,can they not share a room when baby gets older ,the ss no I want guardianship is this the right information they are telling me fostering first,and if so how long would I have to foster for
Susie - 17-Jan-20 @ 8:51 PM
My granddaughter lives me of the age of 14 can she get guardianship herself without me having to do it
Max - 11-Sep-19 @ 5:49 PM
My daughter is terminally ill and her partner and father of my 4yr old grandchild is just not capable of caring for him due to drink and drug problems..my daughter wants me and her older children to have full custody when the time comes..is this possible?
Worried grandma - 15-Jul-19 @ 2:45 PM
Help please. My sister has lost 2 kids to SS in the past, she is currently pregnant again and has been told she will have baby taken off her one the baby is born! Is there anyway I can get guardianship of my sister's baby! (This is what she wants too) I already have my 4yr old daughter so I know I'm capable and have the space for baby too! What do I do? Who do I contact?
Worried.aunt - 20-Jun-19 @ 11:03 PM
I have an grandaughter has needs but scoial worker wants to do is put them in care because parnets has specail needs i so up set now i have not stoped crying
Calvo - 6-Jun-19 @ 4:35 PM
Hi everyone. So, where to start?! My great niece was born 2013. She lived with her mum and dad for 2 months then they split up. Child's mum would leave her with whoever agreed to babysit while she continued to live a life of no responsibilities. Ss worked along side mum to help her prioritise her daughter and to help with her home and mental health. This continued until she was approximately 18 months old. Shortly before little one came to stay with me properly dad found out that mum didn't want to care for their daughter and that she was going to handover PR to myself. He then removed her from my care (underhandedly). We applied to court to have her returned, they granted this request and temporarily granted access for contact until assessment had been completed. During these assessments it became apparent that both parents struggled massively with mental health and that neither had taken steps to help themselves. Ss then decided that recent attempts to encourage mum to be mum and prioritise her daughter were in vain and that the child should remain with myself under an SGO. Court granted application and assessment started. Mum supported my application for most of the process then change of heart when court restricted her contact with little one until a risk assessment had been undertaken. End result was that I was granted an SGO and I was to supervise contact for a period of time then progress to unsupervised. We had done exactly that but incidents occurred and dad cut contact and has not seen little one for over a year. Mum still has contact, she had progressed to unsupervised and overnight stays but then during those visits tried to convince her daughter that I had been physically hurting her and reported me to ss for abuse of not only her child but also my children. Ss conducted their assessment as required and found nothing. Mum then went on to burn out my car and vandalise my partners van. She later damaged my new car. We have no actual proof other than a very good understanding of her and her abilities. Conversations with her also suggest she was responsible. Her bf also threatened her that he was going to tell us it was her. We then got cameras for our home but the my car was damaged during contact. This is only some of the problems that have occurred since little one was born. But drug and acohol abuse was also a factor. Our problem now is that she is 11 weeks pregnant with a man who's past is largely compromised. I was awarded an SGO in 2017. She isn't fit to have another baby! She has not made an attempts to better her life hence why her contact is still supervised by myself. How likely is she to keep this new baby? I have raised my concerns with ss Thank you
LMC - 29-May-19 @ 1:11 PM
I been raising my grandson since birth mother and father are not helping out at all and cannot be found i wanted to know am i entitled to anything
Smith - 28-May-19 @ 3:12 PM
My grandson is on a full care order with his paternal grandfather and my daughter is currently 20 weeks pregnant,what will happen regarding my unborn grandchild and is there anything that can be done now to prevent them taking him?
Lis - 14-Apr-19 @ 11:28 AM
I have special g ship of my to grandsons one is 18 now and 11 am worse of than anything now i get £140 pounds a week to pay all my bills food i don't work because i have no 1 to look after the 11year old i have to put towards my rent c tax 1of my draughter helps me out with money she as her own family as well had to ask the 1at 18 to leave because he cant afford to pay the down fall in the rent and c tax i have to pay bedroom tax 14 a week now i cant afford to live so am phoning social services next week to tell them to place the one at 11 somewhere else it is heart breaking for all of us there is no surport for me no help i have had my grandson from babys it is disgusting it really is when it comes to this heartbroken i am
Dolly - 16-Mar-19 @ 8:10 PM
My parents are talking about going to court to get full custody of my nephews.Recent events of the family include my sister being thrown out the flat with the kids and them staying at my parents. My sisters partner wouldnt allow my sister into the flat and when he did i knew tempers were flared so i ran in to keep things calm. He kept grabbing my sister and trying to force her out the flat. I stood in the way of her and he punched me in the face giving me a black eye. He then went on to blame my mom for my sisters post natal depression brought on from giving birth to my youngest nephew nearly 2 months early and suffered with jauntis. He has aspergers and big anger issues and she has post natal depression and anxiety. He is also a drug dealer which i have proof of. And my sister wont be a witness to the assault and has buried her head in the sand acting like nothings happened. She gone back to him forgiven him for whats happened. So basically with recent events unfolding police being involved aswell my parents have come to the conclusion the kids arent best suited living there until they both have sorted their heads out and improved. If they do fight for custody my parents have stable jobs stable income and a permanent home and safe surroundings which are familiar to my nephews. Can my parents fight for custody of my nephews with all of this drama going on?
Concerned uncle - 18-Jan-19 @ 5:02 AM
I’m not a grand parent but I’m pregnant and my child is under child protection, I’m struggling wirh mental health and my other half with drug miss use. He has moved away for support and social services keep mentioning my unborn daughter going to my parents. Would I still be able to live with my parents do you know? Or will I have to have certain visitation rights?
Reeal - 10-Jan-19 @ 11:29 PM
#CC....to start the process you need to get permission from the court to apply for a Special guardianship order. Once you have permission to apply, you need to inform children's service's of your intention, they take approximately 3 months to complete their assessment, very in depth and intense but once you have this and completed medicals, you can then put in your application to the court. There are costs involved but it is possible to complete the process yourselves thus reducing potential solicitor costs.....good luck.
Curlytop - 14-Nov-18 @ 8:37 PM
Would like some information.. my sister is trying to get legal guardianship of her granddaughter as her daughter has asked for her to do this as she feels she's too young to be a parent... she has no clue as to go about this so any info would be greatly appreciated to start the ball rolling? Need info on how to get guardianship and how to apply etc.. many thanks
Cc - 14-Nov-18 @ 2:39 PM
My grandsons are in foster care and now seperated my son wants me to have full custody if ive been poorly in the past tofight for them and stronger well enough to give them stable home now is it to late even if im on medication for depression and gout
FIFI - 12-Nov-18 @ 7:18 AM
#semus2k5....I can only speak from my experience, my two grandchildren we're put on a child protection plan last year, they began to live with us from August. Social care we're very involved, lots of visits to us and children are allocated social workers, mother agreed children to live with us from the start but we we're told very clearly that the only way the children would be removed from the child protection plan would be if my husband and I first got a child arrangement order....through the court and ultimately a Special guardianship order, which social care have to make an assessment of your circumstances and present to court. I understand that legally, this is the only way you can hold parental responsibility for the children and agreement alone is not sufficient. We are now the very proud guardian's of these two precious little people.
Curlytop - 24-Oct-18 @ 9:22 AM
Hi our daughter has agreed to sign parental rights to us of her two children social services are involved with them but it’s at a very early stage the children are in our custody at the moment with a child protection order in the process with regards to their mother and contact will there be any issue and how can we arrange the signing of parental rights and also would that mean that we don’t have to deal with social services as we haven’t done anything wrong thanks
seamus2k5 - 15-Oct-18 @ 5:05 PM
#sillybot..you need to inform social care of your intentions asap in writing, always advisable to seek legal advice. Children's service's will do an in depth assessment of you and your circumstances which can take several month's to complete, they will advise you of your options, good luck.
Curlytop - 4-Oct-18 @ 8:35 PM
Hi I’m living in another country and my grandchildren are in foster care and may be taken from there mother can I as a grandparent go for custody of them
Eims - 4-Oct-18 @ 1:49 AM
I have my granddaughter in Texas she is 3 under cps at the moment I live in the uk can I fly over and bring her to the uk to look after her
Kazza - 3-Oct-18 @ 9:07 PM
hi my grandchildren have been taken into care. daughter has contact thro a contact center only now. how do i go about custodyof the grandchildren as reading between the line my daughter will not get them back. please advice me going nuts here
sillybot - 3-Oct-18 @ 4:50 PM
#Shirl, I would advise you to seek legal advice as soon as possible, meanwhile put in writing your intention to social care, good luck ??
Curlytop - 28-Sep-18 @ 2:59 PM
Hi I have a granddaughter who was taken from her mother for failure to protect. They are both US citizens, but my daughter was traveling back and fourth from the US to the UK to be with the abuser. My granddaughter is in foster care in the UK, they have gotten jurisdiction. I’m trying to get my granddaughter back and don’t have a clue what to do next. We are extremely close and yet ss will not answer any questions. They have a forced adoption set for February 2019. My daughter is 4 months pregnant as well. Can someone help?
Shirl - 25-Sep-18 @ 6:52 PM
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
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