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What Rights do I Have as a Grandparent?

By: Louise Smith, barrister - Updated: 9 Nov 2017 | comments*Discuss
 
Parental Responsibility Child Court

Q.

I have a residence order for my grandson. His mother has a severe personality disorder, his father has behaviour problems and ADHD, they have moved into the area where I live and want access to their son.

I do not have a problem with that, but what if they want to take him out, or want him to stay over with them.

They cannot look after themselves, they do not wash themselves or clean their home. Social services have been involved with them for a long time.

I have parental responsibility, as does the mother, but what rights do I have with regards to my grandson?

(Mrs J.A, 20 October 2008)

A.

Parental responsibility is a legal concept derived from the Children Act 1989. Somebody with parental responsibility for a child has a legal duty to care for that child and the right to be involved in decisions concerning the child. There are a number of ways in which an individual may acquire parental responsibility. The birth mother of a child automatically acquires Parental Responsibility – the unmarried father of a child does not.

You say that you have parental responsibility through a Residence Order. There are several ways that a grandparent may acquire parental responsibility:

  • Parental responsibility order – this simply attributes parental responsibility to an individual giving them a say in decisions about the child’s welfare.
  • Residence order – this is when a court decides where a child will live. The persons named in the order, with whom the child is to live, will automatically acquire parental responsibility.
  • Special guardianship order – this is where an individual gains more substantial rights and responsibilities towards a child, the effect of such an order is somewhere between a residence order and an adoption order.
Had you adopted your grandson, his mother would no longer have parental responsibility. As a grandparent, who is naturally concerned about the ability of your grandson’s mother to take care of him, you may wish to consider Obtaining A Special Guardianship Order. This would give you greater rights to decide what is best for your grandson to the exclusion of his mother’s rights.

You express concern about what would happen if your grandson’s mother, or father, wanted to take him out or have him stay with them at their home. As a person with parental responsibility, you have not only the right but the legal duty to make decisions which are in that child’s best interest. If your grandson’s parents are indeed incapable of looking after themselves, you may conclude that your grandson could or would come to harm if left in their sole care. As a person with parental responsibility you could, therefore, refuse to allow this to happen.

The difficulty would arise if your grandson’s mother insisted that her son should stay with her. If two people with parental responsibility cannot agree on an issue concerning the child, they may ultimately have to apply to the court for an order resolving the disagreement. For example, you may ask the court to order that your grandson may only be at his parents’ house when another adult is present. Whenever the courts make a decision concerning the welfare of a child, the overriding consideration will always be the child’s welfare.

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My 15 year old granddaughter lives with us after a breakdown in the relationship with her mum (not my daughter) and being thrown out.She is 16 next June and wishes to attend college rather than sixth form.Her mother has said no to that so I spoke to the college to check whether the mother's consent was needed.They told me it was not, and I cannot find anything definitive about this when I search online.We did apply for a child arrangements order but this was refused on the grounds that her mother told the court that she was more than happy for my granddaughter to be living with us and also because of her being 15 it would not matter much to my granddaughter to have this in place!!!!. My question is, can she attend college without her mother giving consent (the application form asks for the signature of a parent/carer) or can I sign the form for her.Her father is not around and does not have parental responsibility.Please help. Thank you
Fedupfreda - 9-Nov-17 @ 7:53 AM
Some advic please I have had my granddaughter living with me for over a year now registered her in school doing very well 100% very happy settled it was an informal agreement between me and my daughter but now she wants her back for whatever reasons I’m not sure babysitter for younger sibling etc????? Every step I’m taking social services who is already involved with my daughter they don’t want to know all anyone keeps saying is PR . My granddaughter does not want to go back there ! Doesn’t even want to visit ???? Please advice anyone Thank you
Pukkap - 5-Nov-17 @ 9:59 PM
Mum14 - Your Question:
My 13 year old son and I have not been getting on for a while. I just put this down to hormones and teenagers thinking that they know everything. Over the summer holidays my son asked to stay with my mum (who I haven’t had a good relationship with for several years and we are not currently speaking). I let him stay over the holidays but when he returned the arguments became worse. My son asked if he could move in with his grandmother and I agreed as long as he came home at the weekends to help rebuild our relationship. I genuinely thought that this was a temporary arrangement and that he would want to come home after a few weeks. I have recently been told by my sister that my mum has spoken to a solicitor to try and gain legal guardianship of my son and that she has been discussing adoption with him! I know that she can’t legally do this without my permission but I feel that she is manipulating my son and making the situation worse. Do I force him to come home and put up with the arguments and my son being unhappy? Or do a let him continue staying with his grandmother and risk losing him completely? He comes from a good home and is well looked after and loved. I am a nurse and have always worked hard to provide the best for him

Our Response:
We really can't give specific advice on this but it would be a good idea to try and find some kind of mediation/dispute resolution service to help you all come to some arrangement that suits the three of you.
LawAndParents - 25-Oct-17 @ 2:06 PM
My 13 year old son and I have not been getting on for a while. I just put this down to hormones and teenagers thinking that they know everything. Over the summer holidays my son asked to stay with my mum (who I haven’t had a good relationship with for several years and we are not currently speaking). I let him stay over the holidays but when he returned the arguments became worse. My son asked if he could move in with his grandmother and I agreed as long as he came home at the weekends to help rebuild our relationship. I genuinely thought that this was a temporary arrangement and that he would want to come home after a few weeks. I have recently been told by my sister that my mum has spoken to a solicitor to try and gain legal guardianship of my son and that she has been discussing adoption with him! I know that she can’t legally do this without my permission but I feel that she is manipulating my son and making the situation worse. Do I force him to come home and put up with the arguments and my son being unhappy? Or do a let him continue staying with his grandmother and risk losing him completely? He comes from a good home and is well looked after and loved. I am a nurse and have always worked hard to provide the best for him
Mum14 - 23-Oct-17 @ 11:41 AM
My grandson is in hospital. He's nearly 8. I've looked after him every week since he was2 weeks old. My daughter won't let mevisit him on the ward. Even though I know he will want to see me. She is always very difficult I am allowed to look after him, clothe him and buy his shoes and take him out every weekend .But I can't attend sports day or nativity plays ,family birthday a ,or visir their home or even take my grandson to the park in his hometown
BEE BEE - 23-Sep-17 @ 3:53 PM
Nannie l - Your Question:
Hi I have the same question as grandad D, need to know how I can protect and if I can take the children?

Our Response:
No you can't simply take the children. If social services become involved, you can apply for a special guardianship order. Social services will usually encourage this as an alternative to taking a child into care or fostering.
LawAndParents - 5-Sep-17 @ 11:59 AM
Hi I have the same question as grandad D, need to know how I can protect and if I can take the children?
Nannie l - 3-Sep-17 @ 1:33 PM
Hi. My grandchild is 2 weeks old and was placed on child protection register before birth. After the birth mum and baby had to live with me and this relationship has broken down. My daughter has now placed the baby in the care of her partners family and returned to live with her partner. I've been refused all contact with the relative caring for the baby and want to make sure I have regular contact. We've been police checked and could provide a loving home for the baby if needed. I've arranged to see a solicitor but I'm worried her partner will kick her out and stop her from seeing her baby.
Sampson - 31-Aug-17 @ 5:49 PM
My daughter is neglecting her children can I step in under UK law and take the children off hher before social services do.
Grandad D - 27-Aug-17 @ 10:14 AM
Blue - Your Question:
Our grandson is being taken into care in 2 wks, we were supposed to be named, should this arise, but we haven't. Can we apply now, the mother says he doesn't want him coming to us, after falling out with us. Our son & her were told not to have contact but they have!! What do we do now?

Our Response:
You should apply to the courts for a special guardianship order.
LawAndParents - 24-Aug-17 @ 11:43 AM
Our grandson is being taken into care in 2 wks, we were supposed to be named, should this arise, butwe haven't. Can we apply now, the mother says he doesn't want him coming to us, after falling out with us. Our son & her were told not to have contact but they have!! What do we do now?
Blue - 22-Aug-17 @ 6:18 PM
Heartbroken Grandma - Your Question:
I've got a 6 year old grand daughter who up till 2 months ago we saw on a regular week to week basis staying with us overnight either Friday Saturday or Saturday Sunday this varied due to work commitments.her mother has now refused us access because of a misunderstanding between us which I apologised for since then no access has been allowed at all. My son can't see her either because he has a new partner who her mother doesn't like. We have tried contacting her on a number of occasions but with no joy please could you advise us of the steps we need to take to try and resolve this situation

Our Response:
Your son can apply to the courts for contact if the mother is not willing to make an amicable agreement. As a grandparent it's more difficult, but if your son has contact arrangements in place then it will be easier for you to see her at those times. Hopefully the mother will realise that she is depriving her daughter of her grandparent's love by refusing any contact as well.
LawAndParents - 8-Aug-17 @ 11:56 AM
I've got a 6 year old grand daughter who up till 2 months ago we saw on a regular week to week basis staying with us overnight either Friday Saturday or Saturday Sunday this varied due to work commitments .her mother has now refused us access because of a misunderstanding between us which I apologised for since then no access has been allowed at all . My son can't see her either because he has a new partner who her mother doesn't like . We have tried contacting her on a number of occasions but with no joy please could you advise us of the steps we need to take to try and resolve this situation
Heartbroken Grandma - 5-Aug-17 @ 8:40 PM
Out of my mind grand - Your Question:
Hi we have had our 13yr old grandson with us for 2yrs he has special needs our daughter can not cope with him, we have all his benefits,could you tell me if we are able to move to Northern Ireland with him thank you

Our Response:
This depends what arrangement you have for his care...i.e is whether it's a special guardianship order etc.
LawAndParents - 24-Jul-17 @ 12:17 PM
Hi we have had our 13yr old grandson with us for 2yrs he has special needs our daughter can not cope with him, we have all his benefits,could you tell me if we are able to move to Northern Ireland with him thank you
Out of my mind grand - 17-Jul-17 @ 6:01 PM
Hi my Grandaughter came to live in Spain when her younger sister was born.Since then we got a SGO for the younger child but they would not give us one for the older child as she had lived in Spain over 5 years and told us to apply in Spain.When I asked in Spain they said it was the responsibility of England.I had a hearing at the family court in Liverpool last week and they told me to apply to Spain.Neither country want to know this child and she is left in limbo.
Jackie - 6-Jul-17 @ 9:53 AM
FedupFreda - Your Question:
My 14 year old granddaughter (15 in a couple of weeks) has been staying with us on and off for quite a few months due to a stormy mother/daughter relationship. The relationship between her and her mother (not our daughter) has now come to a head whereby she doesn't want to live with her mother and her future stepfather, and her mother has also said that she will not have her back home. Our granddaughter is now with us and we have now made it known that we are more than happy to provide a permanent safe, secure and stable home with us, which her mother is agreeing to. I believe that it would be sensible to have some sort of order in place to enable us to be able to arrange any doctor or dental appointments necessary and also to be able to make decisions in an emergency. Her mother is asking why we want to do this as she doesn't want to look foolish when she speaks to any legal professional about this. I have explained the reasons to her but would like advice on what potential steps we could take to secure our granddaughters future.

Our Response:
You could consider applying to the courts for a Special Guardianship Orderapply for a special guardianship order but that pretty much removes the rights of anyone else with parental responsibility (i.e her parents). Alternatively you could consider a residence/shared residence order?
LawAndParents - 21-Jun-17 @ 12:17 PM
My 14 year old granddaughter (15 in a couple of weeks) has been staying with us on and off for quite a few months due to a stormy mother/daughter relationship.The relationship between her and her mother (not our daughter) has now come to a head whereby she doesn't want to live with her mother and her future stepfather, and her mother has also said that she will not have her back home.Our granddaughter is now with us and we have now made it known that we are more than happy to provide a permanent safe, secure and stable home with us, which her mother is agreeing to.I believe that it would be sensible to have some sort of order in place to enable us to be able to arrange any doctor or dental appointments necessary and also to be able to make decisions in an emergency.Her mother is asking why we want to do this as she doesn't want to look foolish when she speaks to any legal professional about this.I have explained the reasons to her but would like advice on what potential steps we could take to secure our granddaughters future.
FedupFreda - 19-Jun-17 @ 12:48 PM
FLC1972 - Your Question:
Hi I wondered if someone could advise me, we took our granddaughter on over 3 year a go and she is now 6.We went to court to get parental rights which we share with her mum 50/50 and she also lives' with us, this is possible until she is 18.She sees her mum as much as she can and she goes and stays with her in the holidays, we have now found out that our daughter is pregnant, and she would like to have her daughter back, which I understand.But I don't now what I do about it, do we have to go back to court.The social where involved at the time, as my daughter was doing drugs and drinking, we took our granddaughter on as we didn't want her to go in to care.my daughter is doing really well and has a job and new home , but lives 2 hours from us.We would love to see our granddaughter go back to her mum, but I'm also worried as our granddaughter is doing really well at school and in her little life generally, but I'm so worried that moving to her mums, new baby, new school could all be to much for her. and I wouldn't want to see this amazing little girl put back in any way.Thank you, if anyone can give me some advise.As we not sure really who to turn to.

Our Response:
It's worth checking with social services if they were involved in the initial decision for your grand daughter to live with you. If all parties are in agreement it should not be too much of an issue to change the arrangements but we appreciate you want a third party to help decide what is best for the child. Could you speak with her school teachers? They may be able to refer you to someone locally for advice.
LawAndParents - 16-Jun-17 @ 1:55 PM
Sootster - Your Question:
My grandson is 13yrs old. His mother refused to look after her children properly and Social Services have finally acknowledged that her parenting skills are poor despite three parenting skills programmes that she had to attend. He has recently been run over by a car on his way to school and she had caused further damage by making him walk on the foot. She will not spend any time at home looking after him or his older very autistic brother and just leaves them to fend for themselves, she only returns home with her 6 yr old son to sleep. My grandson is begging us to allow him to come and live with us. What is the legal position here please ? One of her other daughter's ( she has five children, different dads) has been removed by the father for her own safety and wellbeing as the youngest boy who has behavioural issues was hurting her. He is extremely violent to all of them. Please help.

Our Response:
Is your son the father? Is he around? He could try applying for a residence order (custody order). Would the mother agree to you havingspecial guardianship? A court might grant this if they thought it was in the best interests of your grandson.
LawAndParents - 15-Jun-17 @ 1:59 PM
Hi I wondered if someone could advise me, we took our granddaughter on over 3 year a go and she is now 6. We went to court to get parental rights which we share with her mum 50/50and she also lives' with us, this is possible until she is 18. She sees her mum as much as she can and she goes and stays with her in the holidays, we have now found out that our daughter is pregnant, and she would like to have her daughter back, which I understand. But I don't now what I do about it, do we have to go back to court. The social where involved at the time, as my daughter was doing drugs and drinking, we took our granddaughter on as we didn't want her to go in to care. my daughter is doing really well and has a job and new home , but lives 2 hours from us. We would love to see our granddaughter go back to her mum, but I'm also worried as our granddaughter is doing really well at school and in her little life generally, but I'm so worried that moving to her mums, new baby, new school could all be to much for her. and I wouldn't want to see this amazing little girl put back in any way. Thank you, if anyone can give me some advise. As we not sure really who to turn to.
FLC1972 - 14-Jun-17 @ 12:31 PM
My grandson is 13yrs old. His mother refused to look after her children properly and Social Services have finally acknowledged that her parenting skills are poor despite three parenting skills programmes that she had to attend.He has recently been run over by a car on his way to school and she had caused further damage by making him walk on the foot.She will not spend any time at home looking after him or his older very autistic brother and just leaves them to fend for themselves, she only returns home with her 6 yr old son to sleep.My grandson is begging us to allow him to come and live with us. What is the legal position here please ?One of her other daughter's( she has five children, different dads) has been removed by the father for her own safety and wellbeing as the youngest boy who hasbehavioural issues was hurting her. He is extremely violent to all of them.Please help.
Sootster - 12-Jun-17 @ 5:44 PM
I am Grandma to a lovely 6yr old. His father and my daughter split when he was 1 and she has since remarried and had a baby girl. The paternal grandfather took her to court and was granted a contact order to see the lad every 6 weeks, supervised and in a public place. The father is a self confessed drug addict with a continuing criminal path including GBH, robbery, drug dealing etc and so my daughter wished to remove the lad for all chance of contact. The lad does not want to see the grandfather and told him so as the last meeting. His angry response was that he would see us in court - not that any solution could be worked out or that we could try again in a few months time. What can the courts actually do if the lad is so adamant he does not want any relationship at all with this man? Prior to the contact order the boy had not seen his grandfather for almost 2 years.
Grandma - 27-Mar-17 @ 2:31 PM
Rtr201 - Your Question:
When ever my daughter (7) stays with her grandparen, she is co-sleeping with them. I have asked them to stop this as I feel she should have her own bed to sleep in. However they have refused to do as I have asked. I really don't want to stop my LG from going to stay but I am not happy to allow her to co-sleep. Is there law on the age of co-sleeping with grandchildren ? Thanks

Our Response:
No there are no specific laws that relate to this unfortunately. Could you say that you are not willing for her to sleep over (i.e she can just go for the day etc)? If not, perhaps you could have a word with your daughter and see if she can ask to ensure she sleeps in her own bed?
LawAndParents - 22-Mar-17 @ 11:06 AM
When ever my daughter (7) stays with her grandparen, she is co-sleeping with them. I have asked them to stop this as I feel she should have her own bed to sleep in.However they have refused to do as I have asked. I really don't want to stop my LG from going to stay but I am not happy to allow her to co-sleep. Is there law on the age of co-sleeping with grandchildren ? Thanks
Rtr201 - 19-Mar-17 @ 12:08 PM
Lotta - Your Question:
The family court last year found my ex-husband guilty of emotional and physical abuse against my son and I and emotional, physical and sexual abuse of my daughter; the court order states he cannot see the children but only write 2 times a year and only to my work address. I am planning on moving house. Do I have to tell him our new address? Also the court order states his parents may send a birthday and Christmas card to the children; sadly they have made our lives hell by calling us ( my son and I and essentially my 7 year old daughter) liars as my will not accept that their oxbridge educated barrister son is a violent child molester. I worry that if I tell them the address that they will tell him and then when my daughter is walking to school, when she is in secondary school, on her own that he may watch her as our neighbours have seen him watching the house. Any advice would be good as he is an awful bully who will drag me into court,his playground, at any opportunity. Thanks.

Our Response:
No, there is no need to tell him your new address, especially if he's not allowed to see the children and if his permitted letters are being sent to your work address anyway.
LawAndParents - 2-Mar-17 @ 9:55 AM
The family court last year found my ex-husband guilty of emotional and physical abuse against my son and I and emotional, physical and sexual abuse of my daughter; the court order states he cannot see the children but only write 2 times a year and only to my work address. I am planning on moving house. Do I have to tell him our new address? Also the court order states his parents may send a birthday and Christmas card to the children; sadly they have made our lives hell by calling us ( my son and I and essentially my 7 year old daughter) liars as my will not accept that their oxbridge educated barrister son is a violent child molester. I worry that if I tell them the address that they will tell him and then when my daughter is walking to school, when she is in secondary school, on her own that he may watch her as our neighbours have seen him watching the house. Any advice would be good as he is an awful bully who will drag me into court,his playground, at any opportunity. Thanks.
Lotta - 28-Feb-17 @ 5:25 AM
Could you advise me regarding a matter concerning my grandson please. My daughter and her partner have separated some years back. Our grandsons father is acting unreasonable regarding items of clothing we purchased as a gift for our grandson, he simply will not return them to my daughter, consequently we, and our grandson are being deprived of experiencing his enjoyment of these gifts. There are other matters ongoing for which my daughter is seeking legal advice, however I feel that we independently need to act now.
Tiddy305 - 17-Feb-17 @ 10:50 PM
mimi - Your Question:
I have 3 of my grandchildren under a guardianship order granted in 2016. My spouse wants the sale of the matrimonial home as we are currently going through a divorce. I do not want the sale as the home was recently approved for the purposes of the guardianship.what are my options?

Our Response:
If you cannot agree this between yourselves you may need a court order to help decide on the options that are available. If staying in the house is in the interests of the children, the courts may order that you stay in the home until they are of an age to leave.
LawAndParents - 26-Jan-17 @ 2:05 PM
I have 3 of my grandchildren under a guardianship order granted in 2016. My spouse wants the sale of the matrimonial home as we are currently going through a divorce. I do not want the sale as the home was recently approved for the purposes of the guardianship. what are my options?
mimi - 25-Jan-17 @ 4:00 AM
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