Protecting the Rights of Grandchildren

When grandparents are responsible for the day to day care of their grandchildren they must take special precautions to be sure that the children’s rights are protected. There are a number of things that can be done to assure that the children can continue to live in a safe, nurturing environment.

Proud grandfather with his granddaughter
Image by Dan/Kelli Oakley from Pixabay

Securing Legal Representation

While it must certainly feel odd to seek legal representation for a grandchild in order to protect them from bad decisions that their parents may make for them, it is an unfortunately common occurrence.

Lawyers specialising in family law are the best choice for such matters, providing invaluable advice and guidance to worried grandparents.

Whether grandparents are looking for legal permission to take temporary guardianship of their grandchildren or are seeking permanent custody, it is vital that they employ a competent attorney.

While some families choose to operate with only informal agreements between the adults, this can put the children at risk in the event that one of the parties fails to meet their obligations.

Having matters in writing affords everyone the peace of mind of knowing that the children’s best interests will be kept as the single biggest priority.

Listening to the Children

While it is sometimes impractical or impossible for children to have their way in family matters, it is still important for them to be given a voice.

Children, especially young ones, are not always capable of understanding the problems within their family, but they typically have a good grasp of how the situation makes them feel. It is common for children to love and defend their parents, even when those parents have shown themselves to be incapable of providing a proper home environment.

Children should never be made to feel their feelings are unimportant or “wrong,” but they need to be protected and provided for, just the same.

Grandparents who have taken in their grandkids must make every effort to accommodate the children’s wishes regarding involvement with their parents, except in cases where that involvement puts the children at risk.

Seeking Professional Help

Kids who have been through traumatic experiences will experience a wide range of emotions and can sometimes benefit from talking to someone outside of the family to help them get perspective.

Child psychologists and family counsellors are trained to guide children safely through their feelings, allowing them the opportunity to express themselves without fear of judgement or negative repercussions.

Often, children are hesitant to communicate their emotions because they either do not want to hurt the feelings of family members or feel that they do not want to add to the family’s burdens.

In any case, children need to have a safe outlet for their emotions, so arranging counselling sessions can be quite beneficial.

Providing Proper Documentation

Ideally, parents who are unable to care for their children would be grateful for the assistance of their own parents, but that is not always the case.

Sometimes parents who suffer from mental illness, substance abuse problems, or are abusive to their children, strongly object to relinquishing the kids into anyone else’s care.

In cases such as these, grandparents must be diligent in documenting every incident in which the children’s parents have endangered them.

While taking such extreme measures is undoubtedly difficult and awkward, it is in the best interest of the children to see that they are living in a safe and stable environment.

Grandma and Grandpa Matter, Too

The stress that is involved in caring for children can take its toll in even the best of circumstances, but for grandparents who are involved in ongoing disputes with their grown children, the difficulties are multiplied.

It is all too common for caregivers to be diligent about seeing that the children’s needs are being met while failing to look out for their own needs.

Grandparents should make every effort to schedule a bit of relaxation time for themselves, as well as seeing that their own needs for a healthy diet, exercise, and sufficient sleep are met.

Safeguarding their personal health is one way to assure that they will be able to provide their grandchildren with the very best care.

10 thoughts on “Protecting the Rights of Grandchildren”

  1. my 13 year old grandson is connected to the social services and has a condition that if things are going bad at home he can come to my house. He has now been here 5 days and refuses to go home. His mother and her boyfriend are now threatening us with a court order to stop contact. Is there anything we can do?

    • In this case, I would speak to social services directly for advice. As your son is aged 13, his opinion will count in court. 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. If your grandson wishes to stay with you and social services have allowed this, then you have social services on your side.

      Much depends upon the circumstances surrounding your grandson’s home life. If his home life is bad and your grandson refuses to return home, then hopefully the courts will rule in his and your favour.

  2. Much depends upon the circumstances regarding why your granddaughter lives with you. Therefore, it is impossible to answer your question. However, anyone who has parental responsibility of the child or is the biological parent will be considered.

  3. i have a residence order for my 7 yr old grandaughter, ive had it since birth, If i die will her mother get her back

  4. Grandma with residence order therefore parental responsibility. Mum and dad still with pr. can gran claim child support from either/both parents?

    • If the child is living with you, then yes, you can claim child maintenance if the parents are earning and paying tax through HMRC.

  5. Hi. I’m new to this situation and feel a overwhelmed at the moment. So much information out there regarding the legal processes it’s hard to know where to start…

    I’m currently looking after my grandson on an unofficial basis but hoping the arrangement will be made official soon.

    Very briefly : Grandson aged 14 and his 4 younger siblings were removed from their mother’s care last summer as a result of her alcohol and substance abuse as well as surrounding herself and the children with a succession of dangerous adults. All of the children were placed with my son/their dad. Everything is fine with siblings.

    They are happy and thriving but grandson kept gravitating back to his mother who is only allowed contact with the children under supervision.

    She seems to have a vice like grip on him and actively encouraged him to engage in her behaviours as well as become a ‘missing child’

    Due to the above, grandson was eventually made subject of a full care order and placed in a care home some 135 miles from home. In time, he was allowed home visits at weekend but only if he stayed with me.

    More recently, he was allowed longer stays and has currently being staying with me for a whole month now. This is where it gets complicated….

    His social worker agreed he could stay with me with a view this becoming permanent as she wanted him away from the care home due to the fact that a local character had been grooming both him and another boy from the same home. I agreed on condition we could get him back into his old school asap.

    She said this could be arranged in about a week and a half. It’s now becoming clear that it isn’t that simple. His school have agreed he can have a place but not until he’s officially here with me.

    This seems fair enough but I was led to believe this could be arranged quickly but in reality it seems not… He’s currently here with me in body but living in a care home 2 1/2 hours drive away on paper.

    Apparently she ‘may’ have to go back to court to get this arranged. In general, how long do these things take? He’s been here a month so far with no schooling and no idea with he can remain here. I just want the uncertainty to end 🙁

    • Are Social Services applying for a Special Guardianship Order, which allows you to make decisions on behalf of your grandchild? Please see link here . If so, we cannot say how long this would take, you would have to speak directly with Social Services regarding this. Can anyone else help with this question, if they have been through similar circumstances?

  6. I wonder if you could possibly list some things that I can put in place to prevent my daughter from turning up at my home unannounced please

    • This is a bit tricky to advise on without knowing the background information and why you do not wish your daughter to turn up unannounced and what the repercussions of her actions are.

      If, for instance, you are caring for your grandchild and you have a child arrangement order that gives you permission to do this, (some orders will make very specific arrangements for the child, other orders will be more open), and if your daughter is overstepping the terms laid out in the order, then she may be in breach. In which case you would have to take the matter back to court in order to have the terms enforced.

      If there are no such arrangements and your care is informal, then you could either start by asking her and if she refuses to respond suggest mediation.

      If the issue cannot be resolved through mediation, then you would have to take it to court. On the other hand, if your daughter is coming the to the house and causing disruption, then you may have to get the police involved. Please see Ask the Police link here which may help.

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