Applying for Parental Responsibility as a Grandparent


Posted on: 23 October 2018 by K J Smith

Although related by blood, grandparents sadly do not have the power nor the legal rights to parental responsibility. Parental responsibility is defined as the rights, powers, responsibilities and authority which falls solely on the birth mother or father unless the court states otherwise.

Although grandparents don’t have automatic parental responsibility, the court does recognise the invaluable role that grandparents play in a child’s life and this is therefore why Residence Orders and Parental Responsibility Orders can be applied for. There are a number of circumstances and events that would prompt a grandparent to acquire parental responsibility– these can include familial breakdown, health complications and violence in the home.

The Process of Applying for Parental Responsibility

When appealing for Parental Responsibility, most grandparents choose to utilise the services and expertise of family law solicitors throughout the process. Whether you’re applying for a Residence Order or a Parental Responsibility Order, a legal professional can help you navigate the legalities and offer impartial and helpful advice.

Although some grandparents prefer to depend on a solicitor, it is possible to obtain Parental Responsibility without the aid of a legal expert. Utilising expert services can become very costly and this is why many grandparents choose to support themselves. However, just because you opt for a more unorthodox and independent approach, it doesn’t mean that you can’t still access legal advice. Citizens’ Advice can provide you with invaluable information regarding the entire process and specific court orders and they can also suggest a range of different institutions that can offer free or low cost legal advice.

Residence Orders

A grandparent can apply for a Residence Order if the grandchild has been living with them for three or more years. A Residence Order would provide the grandparent with rights, powers, responsibilities and authority regarding their grandchild and their assets. Alongside Parental Responsibility, the Residence Order also explains the change in guardianship, establishing that the child in question is now legally living with their grandparent. The grandparent may also be entitled to paid allowances for the grandchild from a local authority depending on the circumstances of the child. Residence Orders can be applied for with the permission of the court even when a child hasn’t been living with their grandparent for the last three years.

Parental Responsibility Orders

Acquiring a Residence Order isn’t the only way for a grandparent to assume Parental Responsibility for their grandchild. Parental Responsibility Orders can also be applied for through the court. This process involves obtaining Parental Responsibility by entering into a Parental Responsibility Agreement with those who currently have the rights and responsibilities to the child in question and typically this will be the biological mother or father. Alternatively, grandparents can seek sole responsibility for their grandchild though a Parental Responsibility Order that is granted by the court itself.

It is only in extreme circumstances that the court will deny a grandparents request to access, contact and care for their grandchildren. All of the decisions by the court made regarding Parental Responsibility will be done with the welfare and best interests of the child in mind.

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