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What Rights do I Have as a Grandparent?

By: Louise Smith, barrister - Updated: 17 Jul 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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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
I need to know what legal rights my partnersnd i have of our Granddaughter who is soon to be 9 years.Daughter recently got married my Grandaughter told me how unhappy she is.. they are refusing us to see her i know shes being bullied by his sisters son whos 13 years.
Jules - 8-Jan-17 @ 6:08 PM
Hello, I want to know if my mother-in-law is legally allowed to take my son (2.7 years old) and travel from UK to Pakistan? Or will the immigration officers won't allow her to? I can not stop her because it will create problems between me and my husband. So I really do hope that some law will automatically stop her from doing so.
Maha - 8-Jan-17 @ 7:39 AM
I've had temporary custody of my grandchildren for most of their lives, there mother has been involved with Child Services 3-4 times since 2006-2007. I took the kids out of house because my daughter couldn't care for them because of drinking I filed for permanent custody March 20215 I was given temporary custody again 6-2015 because my daughter went to jail for 9 months. My grandson wants nothing to do with his mother I think she broke his heart for the last time. She got custody back of my grandson. He doesn't want to go, he'll be 13 in February. She likes to drink and drive with kids in car. Please advise. Thank you Debra A. Davis
Debbie - 28-Dec-16 @ 2:56 AM
Ally - Your Question:
My daughter has been living with my father for about 7 years. I was in school and trying to accomplish a carreer start. I have either live with them or live within 3-5 mins distance. She stays with me on alot of her breaks and her weekends. I am now moving across country for better job and family. She as well is excited. Her father and I have made our own agreement. If and when I am granted sole custody can her grandfather file custody against my already signed court order due to her living situation

Our Response:
There's nothing to stop him applying, but it will be the court's decision as to whether to grant it.
LawAndParents - 7-Dec-16 @ 10:42 AM
My daughter has been living with my father for about 7 years. I was in school and trying to accomplish a carreer start. I have either live with them or live within 3-5 mins distance. She stays with me on alot of her breaks and her weekends. I am now moving across country for better job and family. She as well is excited. Her father and i have made our own agreement. If and when i am granted sole custody can her grandfather file custody against my already signed court order due to her living situation
Ally - 6-Dec-16 @ 2:44 AM
My 10 year old son has been attacking me for two years, yesterday I broke down and finally admitted it. He's volatile towards his younger siblings and has told me he hates me and them and he wishes he was an only child. He's run away, hurt himself and me, lies and steals. I love him but I have to think of all the children's safety. My dad has offered to have him live with him which hurts but might be for the best, is there someone I need to tell in order for this to happen?
Kerry - 28-Oct-16 @ 6:58 PM
Grandma D - Your Question:
My 16 year old granddaughter ran away from home and wants to live with me a lot of people have told me now she is 16 she can do what she wants ie live with her grandparents on the other hand the police said she has to listen to her parents and go back home because she is not yet 18. Who is right?

Our Response:
She can choose where she lives at the age of 16. It's sensible to discuss this with her parents first though.
LawAndParents - 26-Oct-16 @ 2:29 PM
My 16 year old granddaughter ran away from home and wants to live with me a lot of people have told me now she is 16 she can do what she wants ie live with her grandparents on the other hand the police said she has to listen to her parents and go back home because she is not yet 18. Who is right?
Grandma D - 25-Oct-16 @ 11:32 AM
My daughter and his partner have a child, my daughter is pregnant. Her partner mum does not speak to him or like him, she has previously taken the child out for a few hours but relations are now very strained. My daughter wants no more contact with her as it is very hurtful to her partner that his mum does not like him but still takes his daughter out. Can they stop her having contact so they can get in with their lives without this negative influence
Jewels - 1-Sep-16 @ 9:08 PM
Heartbroken - Your Question:
My son and his girlfriend and their son have been living with me for three years they have a drug problem my son went to jail and she still lived with me when my son got out he did not come home because he didn't want to use again and she was still on drugs she ended up being admitted into hospital with complication from her drug use my son is in a drug program my grandson went to visit her patents and now they wont bring him back what do I do my sons girlfriend is angry that my son left her her parents have never liked me because I didn't throw the kids out on the street because of there drug use. I don't want custody of my grandson I don't want to put him threw hell I just want him back a couple days of the week I never deprived them of seeing him what do I due I miss him.

Our Response:
You don't have many rights as a grandparent unfortunately. Is your grandson's mother still living with you? Does she wnat to have your grandson living back with you all? If so all you can do is offer your support. If your son has contact with your grandson, can you ask him to meet up with you so you can spend some time with your grandson?
LawAndParents - 25-Aug-16 @ 11:17 AM
I've. Had my grandson 4 days sometimes more on a weekly basis as my sons ex girlfriend was only 18 when she had my grandson. They split and he ended up in prison and she was partying 24/7 and left the baby with me. I had told her I would get her help and took her doctors! I just wanted her to be a good mum she was missing out on so much with her son. Out of spite she got her half sister to step in and have my grandson a few days a week on her behalf and I carried on having him the other half! I told the sister to tell my grandson s mother if she didn't pull her socks up and startlookin after her son that I will have no other option than to take this further and apply for residence rright. Apparently she signed him over to the sister and the sister claims for him!Social services no the situation. And no I here's here with me 4 days a week and with her 3 days! She gets all the help and I don't get any help from no one ! Even though the money isn't a big issue its my grandson gets passed from pillow to post every weekis there any help I can apply for as I can't afford to provide all time as I have 5 kids my self.
Jo - 24-Aug-16 @ 10:24 PM
My son and his girlfriend and their son have been living with me for three years they have a drug problem my son went to jail and she still lived with me when my son got out he did not come home because he didn't want to use again and she was still on drugs she ended up being admitted into hospital with complication from her drug use my son is in a drug program my grandson went to visit her patents and now they wont bring him back what do I do my sons girlfriend is angry that my son left her her parents have never liked me because I didn't throw the kids out on the street because of there drug use. I don't want custody of my grandson I don't want to put him threw hell I just want him back a couple days of the week I never deprived them of seeing him what do I due I miss him.
Heartbroken - 22-Aug-16 @ 8:18 AM
Mum44 - Your Question:
Hi my kids are under child protection order and can't see their dad his parents want me to let them take my children out I have recordings of his mum lying to me about simple things because her son asked her to lie so how do I know she won't give him access to the kids? Do I trust them or my gut instinct that is screaming not to do it?

Our Response:
We really can't make this judgement for you. How old are your children? Would they be able to tell you afterwards - or is this too much of a riskl? Both the father and their father could be guilty of an offence if they deliberately contravene a child protection order?
LawAndParents - 2-Aug-16 @ 11:21 AM
Hi my kids are under child protection order and can't see their dad his parents want me to let them take my children out I have recordings of his mum lying to me about simple things because her son asked her to lie so how do I know she won't give him access to the kids? Do I trust them or my gut instinct that is screaming not to do it?
Mum44 - 1-Aug-16 @ 3:58 PM
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