Obtaining Parental Responsibility

Though they are blood relatives grandparents have no automatic, legal rights or responsibilities to care for their grandchildren. If such rights and responsibilities are desired, however, grandparents do have the option of going through the court and being granted these privileges.

Adopting the children or making them a ward of the court could result in grandparents legally assuming a role in the children’s upbringing, but these are drastic measures.

More commonly grandparents assume legal rights and responsibilities toward their grandchildren through Residence Orders or Parental Responsibility Orders.

Residence Orders

If a child has been living with his or her grandparent for three years then the grandparent is able to apply for a Residence Order. A Residence Order establishes that the child is living with the grandparent, and also provides the grandparent with Parental Responsibility for the child.

Depending upon his or her circumstances, the grandparent may also become eligible to be paid allowances for his or her grandchild from the local authority.

If a child has not been living with his or her grandparent for three years the grandparent can still ask the court for permission to apply for a Residence Order.

Parental Responsibility Orders

If a grandparent is awarded a Residence Order for his or her grandchild then the grandparent automatically assumes Parental Responsibility for the child.

However, Parental Responsibility can also be obtained by entering into a Parental Responsibility Agreement with those who already have Parental Responsibility, usually a biological mother and/or father (more than one person can have Parental Responsibility for a child at any given time) or by seeking it from the court.

If Parental Responsibility is granted by the court, it is done so in a Parental Responsibility Order.

Obtaining Parental Responsibility

Whether a grandparent is attempting to be granted a Residence Order or Parental Responsibility Order for their grandchild, most of the time a solicitor is employed to help navigate the legalities of this process. However, obtaining Parental Responsibility can also be done without the aid of a solicitor.

Citizens’ Advice will be able to provide information on these processes, as well as where to find no or low cost legal assistance.

One reader was unable to wait the weeks it would have taken to be seen by a solicitor and decided to take matters into her own hands. She simply obtained copies of necessary forms for applying for a Residence Order (C1, C1A and C2) and filled them in with the help of the court counter clerk.

Upon paying the £350.00 (total) fees, she then lodged the forms. Before her case was heard in court, however, she was able to obtain a free meeting with a solicitor by way of Citizen’s Advice who checked over the application to make sure that she had not missed anything vital.

She also gathered a number of letters of support for her application from families and friend, and sent them via registered post to be filed with her application.

By supplying these letters early, she left plenty of time for the judge to read them before the case was called. In the end, this reader was delighted when her application was successful.

14 thoughts on “Obtaining Parental Responsibility”

  1. My daughter and granddaughter have lived in a separate annex of my house for just over 3 years. She has sadly passed away and my granddaughters father wants her to live with him but give me as much access to my granddaughter as I want.

    But its 150 miles away. He and his partner both work from home and can offer a good quality of life for my granddaughter who is 6 years old. I am 65 and my partner is 70. What chance is there of getting a court order to stay with me.

  2. I am very sorry to hear this. Much depends upon how much input your granddaughter’s father has had in her life to date, whether the father is registered on the birth certificate and has parental responsibility and/or whether your daughter made provision in her will nominating you as a preferred guardian.

    You would really need to seek legal advice regarding this matter. If you do decide to challenge this and your grandfather’s daughter objects, then it could end up in court, if your solicitor thinks you have a case. However, as in all cases, the court’s main concern is the welfare of the child in question.

    The court will always put the child’s best interests first and this main issue will determine the outcome of any application for an order.

    Likewise, you as a grandparent and your granddaughter’s father should try to work together with the same objective of putting your granddaughter’s best interests first.

  3. I am a single male of seventy years. Seeking to get custody of my one year old grandson. The parents are hoping this is possible. My son is going through de-tox for alcohol and mental problems. His partner has two older children who now live with their father, social services have been involved for a number of years with her.

    Do I have any chance of reaching my goal. Any advice would be deeply appreciated. I have spoken to an independent social worker but feel my age is a barrier to his long time care, was hoping my son can move in and help when he finishes his de-tox. Thanks

  4. @Tony – if you are a close family member who has had a good deal of input into your grandchild’s life, then social services will consider you, yes.

  5. My son had a baby boy with his now x partner, she has refused to give us access to him and not replied to any of our messages, just choosing to ignore everything, first she told him he could have him 2 days a week, my son went and brought all the necessary baby equipment, he’s only 7 months,

    Then when the time come, she didn’t reply, and had her previous x threatening my son to keep away.

    We as grandparents also want to see our grandson to get a relationship with him, and my son also wants this too, we have a good family background and can give the boy extra love from our side, what’s the best way forward, can I as a grandma make a application to see him on behalf of my son?

    Because if the way she treated my son, he doesn’t want to look at her or talk to her, and I am happy to do the talking just to get access to our grandson occasionally would be great. Any advice would be good.

  6. @Binni, is your son on the birth certificate ?? If so, they share PR for your grandson. If ex is making life difficult, then mediation or/and court would be the way forward, citizen advice can advice or there are some free online services that can offer advice, it’s so sad when parents use the children as weapons against each other and as grand parents we have to sit back and watch, often loosing out on our grandchildren.

  7. I have looked after and supported my granddaughter since she was born. She has spent limited time with her mother due to her mother’s lifestyle and state of living arrangements.

    I know my daughter neglects my grandchild, myself and my husband and my own mother have been down several times to clean the house so it’s safe for my grandchild to be there.

    My daughter spends all her money on alcohol and disappears for days then when she comes back she demands my granddaughter back. Social services have been involved before but it’s still continues.

    My daughter also has mental health issues. I just don’t know what to do. I fear for her safety.

  8. You would really have to get advice from Social Services (depending upon the breadth of the involvement) and try to work alongside them. You can see more via the Family Lives link here.

  9. My Granddaughter has lived with us since birth 12years on a mural agreement between her mother and us ( father is unknown). We now need to apply for parental responsibility for dental, doctors reasons etc, we have the consent of her mother but what is the easiest, quickest and cheapest way to go about it please.

  10. You would have to apply for a Child Arrangements Order (formerly a residence order). A Child Arrangements Order sets out with whom a child is to live, that person will then be granted Parental Responsibility which is on an equal level to that of the parent(s), please see link here (https://www.gov.uk/looking-after-children-divorce/types-of-court-order) . Please also see the ChildLaw Advice link here (https://childlawadvice.org.uk/information-pages/special-guardianship/) , which will help you further explore your options.

  11. My 9yr old Grandson has been living with me permanently for 14 months (His choice) his Mother agreed, he also has a half sister, whom spends half the week with her dad, Mum works, but is now heavily pregnant.

    Ive been Awarded his child benefit etc. He is coming along well in the local school, his teachers have noticed a massive improvement, compared to reports from his previous schools this past year.

    He sees his mum once or twice a fortnight (but doesn’t like going) My son he sees one weekend out of four, and is named on his birth cert. My Son lives and works in England, he took my grandson to live there “briefly”

    Alas his long term relationship broke down, resulting in Both coming back to me in Wales (where the rest of the family live) Having to change schools etc again. My son was only back here in Wales a few weeks, before moving back to England, while my Grandson stayed with me.

    We both recently moved into our new home, which my Son was meant to share with us, before his decision to move back.

    Long Story Short…His Relationship is back on,,,, now my Son says its time for him to be a father and says he’s taking my grandson back to England. Grandson wants to stay with me, doesn’t want to move cpl hundred miles from all his family and friends.

    What can I do? I’ve had him every weekend and school holidays since birth, they were never married but lived together firstly with me until grandson was 8 months old, then in their own place.

    The school is behind me, with my decision of his security and to reside with me.

    Thanks for any help

  12. I am sorry to hear this. However, as your son is the father he does not have to ask permission to take his son as he has parental responsibility. Your only option is to apply to court if you feel it is not in your grandson’s best interests and if you have a provable reason why your grandson should not go to his father. I suggest you seek legal advice.

  13. My son moved back home after the breakup of his relationship, he bought his son back with him, his ex has there son on Monday Tuesday and Thursday evening, the rest of the week he is either at school or with us, my grandson who is 31/2 needs stability, they use him as a bargaining tool, but when I try to help I’m told to butt out.

    It’s heart-breaking to see how they use him against each other, myself and my husband would like to get custody of our grandson, but not sure if this is something that would be possible

  14. My grandson has lived with me since he was 4. He is now 13. I have a court order stating I am responsible for him until he is 18. However he wants to return to live with his mother.

    The children were taken from her because of neglect , drugs, and she went to prison. She was supposed to get them back after prison but did not meet the criteria.

    She has since cleaned up and he wants to live with her rather than here. Less rules etc Can someone advise me what I need to do now, I don’t want him to be unhappy

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