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 Residence 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.
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.
You can use this link to see whether you might be eligible for legal aid - Legal aid eligibility calculator.
For futher information about eligibility for legal aid contact our advice service. If you are not eligible for legal aid we may be able to refer you for free legal advice – see below.
- Special Guardianship or Residence 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.
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.
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 7242 1222
Contact the Law Society or search on its website for a local solicitor specialising in the law relating to children.
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.