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. A legal order will confirm that the child is to live with you and give you the right to be involved in making decisions about their care and upbringing.
See our factsheet on Special Guardianship and Child Arrangements Orders. Detailed factsheets and further advice about legal orders are available from Family Rights Group. You are strongly advised to seek legal advice before deciding what is best for you.
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. We also advise you to seek legal advice about this.
If the child is placed with you by social services, then unless you agree with them when they 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 receive a fostering allowance. This is a complicated area of law and practice is variable. Contact Family Rights Group for further advice.
Further information about legal orders and support for kinship carers can be found in our Kinship Care Guide, which can be downloaded here. Note that Residence Orders (chapter 5) have been replaced by Child Arrangements Orders. See our factsheet below for further information.
Legal proceedings can be expensive. However, the local authority may be able to help you with the cost. You may be entitled to legal aid if your income and capital are low enough, although from April 2013 certain cases no longer qualfiy for legal aid.
Click here for some information about legal aid. The Civil Legal Advice helpline on 0845 345 4345 can also advise you on whether you are eligible for legal aid. If you are not eligible for legal aid we may be able to refer you for free legal advice – see below.
- Special Guardianship or Child Arrangements Order - kindly provided by 4 Brick Court Family Law Chambers
We are very pleased that 4 Brick Court specialist Family Law Barristers have agreed to give free legal advice to clients referred by Grandparents Plus. To find out whether 4 Brick Court might be able to help in your case please contact our advice service. For this free service they cannot accept self-referrals.
Family Rights Group
Advice line:0808 801 0366 Monday to Friday 9.30am-3.00pm
FRG provides free, confidential independent telephone and e-mail advice to family members who are involved with the local authority about the care of a child.
FRG has set up the Family and Friends Care Legal Advice Project in partnership with Hackney Community Law Centre. The project can help relatives and friends who want to apply for a legal order to be able to look after someone else’s child but cannot get legal aid to do so. You must live in London to qualify for help from the project. You can contact the project directly on 020 7923 2628 or complete a self-referral form here.
Bar Pro Bono
Bar Pro Bono is a charity which helps to find free legal assistance from volunteer barristers. Cases must be referred by advice agencies or solicitors.
Coram Children’s Legal Centre
Advice line: 0808 802 0008 Monday to Friday 8am-8pm
Free legal information and advice on all legal issues relating to children and young people
The Law Society
Telephone: 020 7320 5650 Monday to Friday 9am-5.30pm
Use the Law Society’s website or phone the number above to find a solicitor in your area who is accredited in children law.
Grandparents Legal Centre
Telephone: 0843 2897130
Specialist legal advice for grandparents, including local authority responsibilities and other issues affecting kinship carers.
Charity offering specialist legal advice and assistance, advocacy and legal representation to children, young people and vulnerable adults. NYAS helpline advisers can support children, young people and and vulnerable adults across England and Wales to ensure their rights are upheld. They also welcome enquiries from representatives of children, including family and friends.
Telephone: 0845 434 9585 Monday to Friday 10am-4pm
Information for grandparents, families and professionals on contact and residence issues.