Grandparents have rights to continue to enjoy relationships with their grandchildren.
If you are caring for your grandchildren full time you may wish to consider applying for a legal order to formalise the arrangement. This could be obtained by way of a Child Arrangements ‘Live With’ Order.
Alternatively, you may not have care of your grandchild, but may seek more contact with them. This could be achieved by way of a Child Arrangements “Spend Time With” Order.
However, before making any application to Court, you would first need to ask the Court for permission to make such an application. We would be able to support you to ask the Court permission to make an application.
Grandparent’s Right to Spend Time with and have their Grandchildren live with them
Legal aid for this type of application is extremely limited and dealt with on a case-by-case basis. Please contact us and we would be able to assess your eligibility. In the event you are not eligible for legal aid we would be able to discuss alternative funding options with you.
Are Social Services involved with your grandchild?
Social Services may intervene in your grandchildren’s lives where they believe your grandchild is suffering serious harm or they are high likelihood if this happening. In the circumstances, they may apply to Court to ask for your grandchildren to be removed from their parents and for an interim care Order to be made. These are usually referred to as ‘Care Proceedings’.
When Social Services commence Care Proceedings the parents are given an opportunity to put forward people they want to be assessed as alternative carers. This is because in the event the child could not return to the care of their parents the Court needs to be satisfied that all other options have been explored.
Accordingly, you may be asked by the social worker if you would like to be assessed to care for your grandchildren, either in the short term or long term. This may be referred to as a ‘viability assessment’ or ‘suitability assessment’.
If your assessment is negative and you wish to challenge the outcome you should seek legal advice at the earliest opportunity. You should write to the Local Authority within 7 days and notify them of your intention to challenge the assessment and inform them of your intention to seek legal advice.
You may potentially be eligible for Legal Aid to challenge your assessment. This is determined on a means and merits basis. Please contact us and we will be able to check your eligibility.
If your initial assessment is positive the social worker will want to carry out a further assessment of you. This assessment will determine if you are likely to be approved as a foster carer for your grandchildren or if it would be more appropriate to care for your grandchildren pursuant to a Child Arrangements Order or Special Guardianship Order.
It is important that you are aware of the various Orders the Court can make. More importantly you need to know what is being asked of you and the differences between caring for your grandchildren as a foster carer or a special guardian and the advantages and disadvantages of both.
We would encourage you to seek legal advice at the outset of any full assessment to ensure that you can make an informed decision as to how you would like to proceed. Legal aid is not available for this particular advice, however, on occasion the social services will agree to fund one hour of advice for you. If the social services will not fund your advice, we can discuss other funding options with you.