Lost contact with a grandchild? Looking after a relative’s child? Providing childcare?
There are now 14 million grandparents in the United Kingdom and for many reasons, grandparents are playing an ever increasing role and part in the upbringing of their grandchildren.
Problems can arise however when a parent decides for whatever reason that a grandparent can no longer see their grandchildren. On occasion concerns are raised about the care on offer to grandchildren by Children’s Services and grandparents are then approached to help provide either temporary or long-term alternative care. Whatever the case may be, Prism Family Law can help.
We can advise you as to the best way of resolving areas of conflict with parents to re-establish contact.
If you are a grandparent or other family member raising a child who is not your own, you may wish to consider applying for a legal order to formalise the situation.
In the case of lost contact, we can arrange for you to meet with an Independent Mediator to see whether a resolution can be reached amicably without having to seek any order from the court or alternatively we can try and arrange a family group conference with a view to reaching a satisfactory arrangement.
If an agreement cannot be reached, as a last resort, it is possible to make an application to the Family Court for a Child Arrangements Order. If this were to become necessary we will advise you on the procedure to be followed and attend the Family Court every step of the way.
If you are in the position of caring for a grandchild, in some circumstances, financial support for the child you are bringing up may be available from the local authority if you obtain a legal order. It is usually best to talk to the Local Authority about what financial and other support may be available to you before the order is made, as you may find it harder to access support later on. Securing the placement of a grandchild with a grandparent can take many forms but often is now achieved by the making of a Special Guardianship Order. If you have been approached but then negatively assessed as a carer for a grandchild then we can help challenge those decisions reached.
If a child has been placed with you by Children’s Services, then unless you agree with them when the place the child with you that it is to be a private arrangement, you may be entitled to be assessed as a foster carer and so receive a fostering allowance.
Legal proceedings can be expensive. However, the Local Authority may be able and willing to help you with the cost and you may be entitled to legal aid funding if your income and capital are low enough.
Ultimately there are various applications that can be made by grandparents in relation to their grandchildren.
The Family Court can and often does make what are known as Child Arrangements Orders and Special Guardianship Orders regulating the living and contact arrangements then for grandchildren. This could be simply setting out how and when grandchildren should have contact with their grandparents. There are also other orders known as Specific Issue Orders whereby a grandparent can ask the Court to make a decision on a specific issue, for example, a holiday to be taken with the children.
If any application is made to the Family Court and no agreement is reached the Family Court may seek a report from the Court Welfare Service (CAFCASS) as to what is in the child`s best interests.
At Prism Family Law we have acted for numerous grandparents on issues arising out of all of the above matters and have had considerable success in resolving issues to our client’s satisfaction.
If you require advice on any of issue concerning your grandchild or grandchildren then please do not hesitate to get in touch – remember your first appointment is entirely free and at such appointment, we will go over all available options including how your case may be funded.
Andrew Wraith, Solicitor, is also a member of Grandparents Plus, the national charity in England and Wales which champions the vital role of grandparents and the wider family in children’s lives – especially when they take on the caring role in difficult family circumstances. Grandparents Plus can be found via the following website – www.grandparentsplus.org.uk
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