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.
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.
- 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 advice to families who are involved with local authority children’s services or need help from those services.
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 or work 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. Grandparents Plus’ advice service can refer appropriate cases to Bar Pro Bono.
Coram Children’s Legal Centre
Free information and advice on all legal issues relating to children and young people. There are a range of factsheets and ‘how to’ guides on the webite. Should you have clarifying questions, their helpline number is available at the end of each factsheet. The helpline is available Monday to Friday 8am to 6pm.
The Law Society
Telephone: 020 7320 5650 Monday to Friday 9am-5.30pm
Use the Find a Solicitor database 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.