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Taking Legal Custody of Grandchildren

By: Elizabeth Grace - Updated: 14 Nov 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]
#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
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
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