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What Rights do I Have as a Grandparent?

By: Louise Smith, barrister - Updated: 9 Jan 2018 | 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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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
Lulu - Your Question:
My 15 yr old granddaughter is living with me, as her mum and stepfather have moved away, she has been told by her mum that she is not to have nothing to do with her aunt, if she foes her mum will come and take her back with her. Can she do this if my granddaughter doesn't want to go. Thank you

Our Response:
What arrangement do you have? Is she subject to a Special Guardianship order or is it just an informal arrangement?
LawAndParents - 9-Jan-18 @ 2:56 PM
My 15 yr old granddaughter is living with me, as her mum and stepfather have moved away, she has been told by her mum that she is not to have nothing to do with her aunt, if she foes her mum will come and take her back with her. Can she do this if my granddaughter doesn't want to go. Thank you
Lulu - 8-Jan-18 @ 4:23 PM
What does it mean when the paternal grandparents get overnights visits with the kids.and why not me
Mommy4 - 7-Jan-18 @ 6:38 AM
Olly - Your Question:
My friend has a daughter who is takkng drugs and she has a three year son with autism.what rights do they have regarding the welfare and safety of their grandchild.

Our Response:
If they feel the grandchild is at risk, they should contact social services.
LawAndParents - 3-Jan-18 @ 3:04 PM
Kate - Your Question:
My Grandaughter is 14 she has lived with me since she was 5 years old , there has never been any court or sociol services involved , it was just an agreement between her mom and myself ,I don't have parental responsibility but was wondering if her mom agrees with me to get it would it still have to go before a court. Has her mom lives a distance away and has mental health issues which sometimes she won't come out the house , my granddaughter has a few health problems which sometimes need hospital addmission and they always ask if I have it and we have spoken about it before but heard it was expensive to go to court.Thanks for any help you could give.

Our Response:
It would be easier if you had a Special Guardianship Order, the fee for which is £160. You may be able to get some help with the cost if you are on benefits or a low income. You might also get fiancial support from the local authority if it agrees your application is crucial for the child.
LawAndParents - 2-Jan-18 @ 12:37 PM
My friend has a daughter who is takkng drugs and she has a three year son with autism..what rights do they have regardingthe welfare and safety of their grandchild .
Olly - 1-Jan-18 @ 10:12 PM
My Grandaughter is 14 she has lived with me since she was 5 years old , there has never been any court or sociol services involved , it was just an agreementbetween her mom and myself ,I don't have parental responsibilitybut was wondering if her mom agrees with me to get it would it still have to go before a court . Has her mom lives a distance away and has mental health issues which sometimes she won't come out the house , my granddaughter has a few health problems which sometimes need hospital addmission and they always ask if I have it and we have spoken about it before but heard it was expensive to go to court .Thanks for any help you could give .
Kate - 24-Dec-17 @ 7:33 AM
Maz - Your Question:
My granddaughter will be 2 years old at the end of January 2018. I have cared for her from being around 2 weeks old (my son's daughter). Her parents (now split) have issues with drink/drugs & violence. I contacted social services as the mother was demanding money from me & holding my GD ransom. I encouraged both parents to visit & her mother would let us down most times. I needed help to make GD life more stable. GD mother was happy for me to move house with my GD & I kept her in the loop at all times. SW then told me I needed to go for a special guardianship order. He told me I would have to fund this, I gave up my job to care for GD. He asked on many occasions to see the mother & she refused all invites to any meetings. Money was brought up & SW told the mother she was "out of order & wrong" to keep child benefit & the other benefits that are attached. I have never had any monies for GD off both parents. Out of the blue, the mother wanted to visit her own mother with GD in Leeds. I had a feeling something was going to happen & told the SW. Was told I had to hand GD over as I have no rights. That was in September & the overnight visit with the other Nan was staged. The mother has left GD in Leeds with other Nan (who I've previously had to give money to on the threat of having GD taken off me) & is now back in Manchester. SW refusing to do anything & I've not seen GD nor am I allowed to see her ever according to the mother & Nan. The reason was given that the SW was very rude to the mother over the phone in telling her she should not be claiming child ben for a child she left in my care! The other Nan is in agreement & has not had any more contact with me after I declined to send her any money. SW advise was to, leave things as they are & GD will be back with me soon as he can see the other nan & GD mother will eventually fall out again!

Our Response:
Did you get the Special Guardianship Order (SGO)? It's not clear from your post whether you did or not.A parent can only discharge a Special Guardianship Order if they apply for the court's permission. If an SGO is in place therefore, you can take this to the courts to see if they can order that the child is returned to you.
If there is no SGO in place,unfortunately there isn't a great deal you can do about this as the courts may consider no action necessary as long as the child is safe. Are the social work team in the area where your granddaughter is living aware of the situation? Please ensure that your GD's social worker refers this to them - sometimes if a child moves out of their area, they simply put the case on hold.
It might be worth getting some advice from a solicitor - many of them offer a free first time consultation, your local Citizens' Advice Bureau will be able to tell you which local solicitors specialise in family matters like this. Let us know how you get on.
LawAndParents - 19-Dec-17 @ 11:08 AM
My granddaughter will be 2 years old at the end of January 2018. I have cared for her from being around 2 weeks old (my son's daughter). Her parents (now split) have issues with drink/drugs & violence. I contacted social services as the mother was demanding money from me & holding my GD ransom. I encouraged both parents to visit & her mother would let us down most times. I needed help to make GD life more stable. GD mother was happy for me to move house with my GD & I kept her in the loop at all times. SW then told me I needed to go for a special guardianship order. He told me I would have to fund this, I gave up my job to care for GD. He asked on many occasions to see the mother & she refused all invites to any meetings. Money was brought up & SW told the mother she was "out of order & wrong" to keep child benefit & the other benefits that are attached. I have never had any monies for GD off both parents. Out of the blue, the mother wanted to visit her own mother with GD in Leeds. I had a feeling something was going to happen & told the SW. Was told I had to hand GD over as I have no rights. That was in September & the overnight visit with the other Nan was staged. The mother has left GD in Leeds with other Nan (who I've previously had to give money to on the threat of having GD taken off me) & is now back in Manchester. SW refusing to do anything & I've not seen GD nor am I allowed to see her ever according to the mother & Nan. The reason was given that the SW was very rude to the mother over the phone in telling her she should not be claiming child ben for a child she left in my care! The other Nan is in agreement & has not had any more contact with me after I declined to send her any money. SW advise was to, leave things as they are & GD will be back with me soon as he can see the other nan & GD mother will eventually fall out again!
Maz - 16-Dec-17 @ 4:52 PM
My son has stopped letting us see our 8year old grandson. He has been a big part of our lives since he was born. His mother always allowed us access and he spent many weeks with us. When he started school we still got him on holidays and every other weekend. He spent most of the summer with us. Unfortunately his mother got into drugs and with a lot of help my son and his wife got custody. It was wonderful at first. He still came here on weekends and holidays and most of the summer as they both worked. I made a comment to my daughter that perhaps he could go home sometimes home at night as he was bored with no other children to play with. She got all out of joint and said that was too much trouble and her days off were for her. The next thing we know we are not allowed to see our grandson any longer.It has been almost 5 months now. We went there to give him a birthday present and he cried the whole time. We parked on the road to see him and I worried he would get in trouble but he said he didn't care. He misses us and loves us. I do believe this all came about due to their owing us money which we do NOT press for. She got in a rage and called me some very nasty things. I will admit I wasn't too pleasant either after. My son left a message saying they owe us nothing and thanks for all the gifts. The money is not an issue we just want to see our grandson. He has threatened us with a restraining order. Also a peace bond. Can he do this? Do we have any rights and if we do what do we do please.
Gramma m - 21-Nov-17 @ 1:39 AM
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
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