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What Rights do I Have as a Grandparent?

By: Louise Smith, barrister - Updated: 22 Jun 2019 | 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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I am the grandparent to my 3 1/2 year old grand daughter, my son who is the father, usually stays with her at our home every second weekend, we have her very weekend and sometimes for two and three weeks at a time as, her mother sometimes does not even contact us to find out how she is or ask for her to come home, both parents were involved with social services when our grand daughter was born as they were in a volatile relationship and SS were going to remove the baby at birth because of concerns for the Childs safety, we as the grandparents and social servicesand the parents agreed that the baby could remain with the parents on the grounds that they came and lived with us, we were vetted checked etc, and were deemed suitable, this was ok for a while but the relationship eventually broke down again due to arguing and fighting and we the grandparents could not allow it to go on so it was sent back to SS and the mother was sent to a mother and baby unit, we were not allowed to see our grand daughter for over a year, eventually we gradually started talking again and started to see the baby regularly again, hence we now haveher as above almost every weekend this has been the case for the last 2 years our grand daughter who is now 3 and a half and wants to stay with us and goes into a meltdown when its time for her to go home to her mums, our son had her last weekend for fathers day and was due to return her home on the Monday as was agreed with mum but the mum wanted her back on the Sunday to which our son refusedand told her he wasn't bringing her back till Monday, this caused an almighty row and the mum stormed into our house as the front door was opened and attacked our son who had his daughter on his knelt the time, and was on the phone to the police to ask where he stood as in not taking the baby home earlier than agreed, both parents were arrested and we have found out there are serious concerns for the Childs welfare ie drugs , and violence at the mothers home with new boyfriends etc, also there are concerns from. her school, and the mum has said we are not to see her again can you tell us where we stand and what advice you could give us, as we are absolutely heartbroken at the thought of losing our grand daughter again through no fault of our own, what can we do, please help
linda - 22-Jun-19 @ 7:22 PM
I have a two and half year old granddaughter who,lives with her mum and half siblings. We have had her to stay with us every week for the past year as my son lives with us and has PR. We have concerns about the care of her she with her mum as she is extremely volitile and is neglectful in her care of her and the siblings e.g. Doesn't get them to school poor diet, inconsistent care etc. We have involved SS but they didn't do anything. My son is applying for a child arrangements order for contact but can we as the grandparent apply for an SGO. My son doesn't feel he could provide the care she needs but we are in a position to do so. I am asking the question as yet again she has stopped contact over a really petty matter.
Shelley - 16-May-19 @ 11:24 PM
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miss v - 7-May-19 @ 8:02 PM
My step grandson who i have had for 7 years has ask me to adopt him and he has ask his mum and she has said yes can I do it
Chip - 2-May-19 @ 7:50 PM
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Maureen - 25-Apr-19 @ 5:37 PM
I am fighting for residency of my grandson is there support
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TC - 29-Dec-18 @ 7:09 PM
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nanny m - 13-Nov-18 @ 9:14 PM
Hi I have a 7 year old grandson for the loss two years when he comes to his dad's and mine he doesn't want to go back to his mum's he tells his mum he wants to stay with his dad infront of his dad his dad and my self has asked why but he won't say we don't want to prompt to much oh put words into him mouth we don't know how to approach it. he was in my neighbour as she has birds so they were talking about the birds and he come out with my mother shouts at me all the time my neighbour didn't know really what to say so she said she might have had a bad day but my grandson said she like it all the time can you gave any advice as we would never run his mum down oh say anythingbad against he saying he not happy there we have said to him what are you not happy about but he won't say we don't like to prompt him what way could we ask him what the problem is with his mum.
Me - 25-Oct-18 @ 10:46 AM
I haven’t saw my grandchildren for 7 weeks now.Their mother refuses to let my son or myself see them.They have been involved with Social work most of their life because of their mother.They have been with us mostly every weekend from birth. My grandson told me something his mother had done to him which was physical abuse . I informed Social services. Since then she won’t let us see them. SS have interviewed my grandson who is 8 years old in his own home and he said it didn’t happen. They have not been any help with the situation. They had been placed on a supervision order for 2 years but had been lifted 3 months ago.Her daughter has already left her and stays with her grandmother now because she left daughterin the house overnight on her own when she was 12. This was 4 years ago. It’s not the first time she has done this. I have been an integral part of my grandchildren life since they were born , which previous social workers have recognised and in all their statemennpts have always said its in the children’s best interest to have weekly contact with their father and grandmother as we are a big part of their life. They now have a different social worker doesn’t seem to see this. She said she has saw the children and has no concerns. If this is the case why have they been investigated loved with social work most of their life because of their mother .She keeps saying I would have to take legal advice . I’m at my wits end. Can you help me please . Where do I stand and where do my grandchildren legally have a say in the situation.
Queenie - 21-Sep-18 @ 5:03 AM
My daughter has just split with her boyfreind ( not married) they have two children together there house is in joint names she has left the home because of hes unreasonable behavior and staying with a freind can she stop hes new girlfreind visiting and staying at the home she has two children herself taken into care because of mental state of health and drug abuse
Bowie - 22-Aug-18 @ 6:40 PM
Hello, my 18 year old daughter had a baby 6 months ago. She lives with me and I have done the majority of care for my grandson as she has struggled caring for him.Yesterday she walked out with him to go and live with a man she has known for 3 months who has been verbally abusive to her and has a drinking problem. When she was 17 she was in an extremely abusive relationship with a man who is currently serving a prison sentence due to the severity of abuse committed against her. I have been advised to apply for Special Guardianship as my daughter doesn’t listen when I/family/various agencies have explained the risks of her choices. Social services have been involved in the past (at my request) to help safeguard her. If I apply for guardianship I’ll lose my daughter, but I’m so worried about my grandson and the risks to him. Any advice or support would be appreciated.
Kren - 9-Jul-18 @ 5:00 AM
Nans girl- Your Question:
Hi all new to this site. My daughter is moving 7 hours drive away. She has 3 children. Oldest girl. Is 12 and 2 boys. She makes a miss of dots all the time and leaves my granddaughter out all the time. I live in wales. But my granddaughter said she doesn’t want to move with her mother. She had me crying this morning saying she want to live with me and her bampi. Want can I do.

Our Response:
There really isn't much you can do here unless the mother will agree to your applying for a Special Guardianship Order?
LawAndParents - 6-Jun-18 @ 2:53 PM
Hi all new to this site. My daughter is moving7 hours drive away. She has 3 children. Oldest girl. Is 12 and 2 boys. She makes a miss of dots all the time and leaves my granddaughter out all the time. I live in wales. But my granddaughter said she doesn’t want to move with her mother. She had me crying this morning saying she want to live with me and her bampi. Want can I do.
Nans girl - 6-Jun-18 @ 9:11 AM
Reyna - Your Question:
My 11 year old granddaughter has lived with her grandparents for a number of years not through any thing wrong the grandparents literally live across the road. First it was because my daughter had 3 jobs then because it was help when her son was born then the grandmother got cancer. My daughter and her partner are splitting up and she wants to move into another house with both kids. Her mil has told her if she tries to move and take her daughter she will take both children away from her. The grandmother has now got social services involved the children's school and are constantly harassing my daughter who can be quite loud and vocal when attacked. They come across all the time provoking her and when she kicks off at them they have filmed her. The grandmothers family are antisocial they do not have friends or mix with anyone and my granddaughter is becoming a recluse her teeth are in a mess how do I deal with this should I get a solicitor. My daughters ex has told so many lies and she even get harassed from his new girlfriend. This is affecting my grandson as he is using bad lauguage at school and it withdrawn. The grandmother is now manipulating my grandson over things he wants he has to go to her house. My keys have gone missing food my caravan so I cannot take the kids on holiday. She turns the internet off to the kids have to be at her house to use there I pads. Police have been involved I have lost 2and half stone in weight I am at my Witt's end can anyone give me any advice.

Our Response:
Start by trying the Family Rights Group . They have a helpline as well as various resources that might be useful to read etc.
LawAndParents - 16-May-18 @ 2:38 PM
My 11 year old granddaughter has lived with her grandparents for a number of years not through any thing wrong the grandparents literally live across the road. First it was because my daughter had 3 jobs then because it was help when her son was born then the grandmother got cancer. My daughter and her partner are splitting up and she wants to move into another house with both kids. Her mil has told her if she tries to move and take her daughter she will take both children away from her. The grandmother has now got social services involved the children's school and are constantly harassing my daughter who can be quite loud and vocal when attacked. They come across all the time provoking her and when she kicks off at them they have filmed her. The grandmothers family are antisocial they do not have friends or mix with anyone and my granddaughter is becoming a recluse her teeth are in a mess how do I deal with this should I get a solicitor. My daughtersex has told so many lies and she even get harassed from his new girlfriend. This is affecting my grandson as he is using bad lauguage at school and it withdrawn . The grandmother is now manipulating my grandson over things he wants he has to go to her house. My keys have gone missing food my caravan so I cannot take the kids on holiday. She turns the internet off to the kids have to be at her house to use there I pads. Police have been involved I have lost 2and half stone in weight I am at my Witt's end can anyone give me any advice .
Reyna - 15-May-18 @ 4:11 AM
babybronc - Your Question:
My granddaughter who was 14yrs but now is 15 came to live with me because she doesn't want to be with her mom or her two younger siblings.she doesn't like her mom's drinking and is scared that she won't stop and her brother and sister have adhd.she can't handle the comotion.she has been with me since last Oct. now her mom wants her home cause she don't like being away from her.her mom knows she don't want to go back home.what r her rights

Our Response:
While her mother still has parental responsibility, she can ask that the daughter returns home. Talk to social services or suggest mediation to come to arrange whereby your granddaughter spends most of the time with you but goes back regularly to the family home to maintain bonds with mum and siblings.
LawAndParents - 11-May-18 @ 2:05 PM
My granddaughter who was 14yrs but now is 15 came to live with me because she doesn't want to be with her mom or her two younger siblings..she doesn't like her mom's drinking and is scared that she won't stop and her brother and sister have adhd...she can't handle the comotion..she has been with me since last Oct.. now her mom wants her home cause she don't like being away from her...her mom knows she don't want to go back home ...what r her rights
babybronc - 10-May-18 @ 4:13 AM
Im raising my 9 year old son alone he sees his dad saturday for a few hours . I would like my mum to be able to sign consent forms for him if im not available as she takes him to some appointments how can i do this
Sparkly4 - 19-Apr-18 @ 3:24 PM
barmiejayne - Your Question:
My dauhhter/son in law are being investigated re neglect of my grandchildren thishas happened before but they gave up in 2006/7. First 3 have grownup but theeldest daughter has big problems re not clean etc. Now it's happening again with 10/5 year old the 10 year oldwants to live with me but dad & mom says I am making it up.SS have been involved for 20 months and have prove no help at all.10 year old been living with me ever weekend and all holidays since birth. Now they will not let her come here at all. 10 year old Iis terrified dad and frighten ed of mom.mom tooka knife to dad during this time. Social services only seem to want them to be better parents she is threatening to kill herself, what do I do

Our Response:
If social services are not helpful and you fear for the safety of your granddaughter, you could try calling the NSPCC for advice. The alternative might be to apply for a special guardianship order or residence order etc - which would mean the courts would investigate and makedecision based on the child's best interests.
LawAndParents - 21-Mar-18 @ 3:37 PM
My dauhhter/son in law are being investigated re neglect of my grandchildren thishas happened before but they gave up in 2006/7. First 3 have grownup but theeldest daughter has big problems re not clean etc. Now it's happening again with 10/5 year old the 10 year oldwants to live with me but dad & mom saysI am making it up.SS have been involved for 20 months and have prove no help at all.10 year old been living with me ever weekend and all holidays since birth. Now they will not let her come here at all. 10 year old Iis terrified dad and frighten ed of mom.mom tooka knife to dad during this time. Social services only seem to want them to be better parents she is threatening to kill herself, what do I do
barmiejayne - 20-Mar-18 @ 12:15 PM
Grandparent - Your Question:
My grandson is nearly Ten years old and I have been his main carer since birth his mum was a teen parent and finished school and college. When she moved out the family home my grandson didnt want to go he has made it clear to her he doesnt want to live there still but she is trying to force him causing bad dreams and bed wetting can she force him to leave his family unit for ten years of his life ? She has told me her girlfriend scares her when throwing things about the home and they can be very moody which Scares my grandson when he was a baby we had to remove him to a different room when her temper snapped and he has said she hurts him when he sleeps over and when he was at nursery she throw his stuff down in the street and chose her placement day as more important then him. Can he refuse to move in to their new house next month ? She agrees with him to his face then sends messages to me demanding it to happen

Our Response:
Do you have any official care of him? Such as a special guardianship order or parental responsibility? If not, then there's not much you can do short of a court order. If you feel that the child is genuinely at risk, talk to social services - they'll be able to advise you on possible courses of action.
LawAndParents - 28-Feb-18 @ 3:12 PM
My grandson is nearly Ten years old and I have been his main carer since birth his mum was a teen parent and finished school and college. When she moved out the family home my grandson didnt want to go he has made it clear to her he doesnt want to live there still but she is trying to force him causing bad dreams and bed wetting can she force him to leave his family unit for ten years of his life ? She has told me her girlfriend scares her when throwing things about the home and theycan be very moody which Scares my grandson when he was a baby we had to remove him to a different room when her temper snapped and he has said she hurts him when he sleeps over and when he was at nursery she throw his stuff down in the street and chose her placement day as more important then him. Can he refuse to move in to their new house next month ? She agrees with him to his face then sends messages to me demanding it to happen
Grandparent - 27-Feb-18 @ 4:43 PM
Nanny jack - Your Question:
My 16yrs old grandaughter has come to live with us ,what rights do we have and what rights does she have ?she's going to college in September can she claim any financial help.

Our Response:
The article above gives details of your rights and which order to apply for if you want further rights. You may be entitled to Child Benefit but we do not know your other circumstances so can't say for sure...you should contact HMRC.
LawAndParents - 20-Feb-18 @ 3:34 PM
My 16yrs old grandaughter has come to live with us ,what rights do we have and what rights does she have ?she's going to college in September can she claim any financial help.
Nanny jack - 17-Feb-18 @ 2:51 PM
GrannyJ - Your Question:
Hi. My 14 year old granddaughter has been living with me since a domestic incident with her mum last year. She refuses to go back to her mum. Do I need to apply to the courts for parental responsibility or can her mother and I have an agreement drawn up between us? I'm finding that I need to sign forms for holidays/school/sports club etc.Many thanks

Our Response:
You could apply for a Special Guardianship order if you want to make it really formal or a parental responsibility order as in the above article.
LawAndParents - 16-Feb-18 @ 2:54 PM
Hi. My 14 year old granddaughter has been living with me since a domestic incident with her mum last year.She refuses to go back to her mum. Do I need to apply to the courts for parental responsibility or can her mother and I have an agreement drawn up between us?I'm finding that I need to sign forms for holidays/school/sports club etc. Many thanks
GrannyJ - 14-Feb-18 @ 4:54 PM
Boo - Your Question:
My 8 year old Grandson came to live with me 9 months ago (his Mother couldn't control him, he wasn't doing well in school, was being really cheeky and naughty) He has wanted to live with me or his Dad for a few years. Dad works away but is able to come home on weekends.I'm in receipt of his child benefit, he's doing very well in school, in short, he's a different child in every aspect! Mum works P/T Nights and used to take my grandson and her younger daughter to her more recent Ex.Bf for 3 nights of the week) This arrangement would still be in place, should take him back. He's now settled in a different school.Mum sees him sometimes once a fortnight (usually working or to busy) What are my rights "If Any"Thanks in advance x

Our Response:
Do you simply want to firm your arrangements for having your grandson with you or to ensure the mother continues to see him? Sorry it's not clear from your post.
LawAndParents - 10-Jan-18 @ 3:39 PM
Mommy4 - Your Question:
What does it mean when the paternal grandparents get overnights visits with the kids.and why not me

Our Response:
What is your relationship to the child? Was this ordered by the court or decided by the parent(s)?
LawAndParents - 10-Jan-18 @ 9:46 AM
My 8 year old Grandson came to live with me 9 months ago (his Mother couldn't control him, he wasn't doing well in school, was being really cheeky and naughty) He has wanted to live with me or his Dad for a few years. Dad works away but is able to come home on weekends. I'm in receipt of his child benefit, he's doing very well in school, in short, he's a different child in every aspect! Mum works P/T Nights and used to take my grandson and her younger daughter to her more recent Ex.Bf for 3 nights of the week) This arrangement would still be in place, should take him back. He's now settled in a different school. .Mum sees him sometimes once a fortnight (usually working or to busy) What are my rights "IfAny" Thanks in advance x
Boo - 9-Jan-18 @ 9:36 PM
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