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If you want to provide your grandchildren with a permanent home because their parents cannot provide the care they need, we can provide sensitive, practical advice and help you take the necessary legal steps.
At Crisp & Co, we are a team of dedicated family law solicitors who provide advice to individuals and families across the UK.
We understand that problems involving children are never easy. As a grandparent, you will only want what is best for your grandchildren; it can be frustrating and heart-breaking to see your child become unable to provide the care your grandchildren need. But if you are in a better position to raise the children and safeguard their welfare, taking action to adopt them or become their guardian is the right thing to do.
Our adoption solicitors can provide clear, pragmatic advice about all your options, breaking down the process into simple steps so that you can make an informed decision about the right way to move forward.
Our family law team have achieved the Law Society Family Law Advanced Accreditation for our skills in handling complex family law issues and helping our clients reach positive outcomes. We are also members of Resolution for our commitment to resolving issues with minimal conflict, saving everyone time, costs and stress – particularly the children, for whom legal proceedings can be confusing and upsetting.
Can a grandparent adopt their grandchild?
Legally, yes, a grandparent can adopt their grandchild. In the UK any person can adopt, regardless of personal characteristics such as age, race, gender, sexuality, marital status or religious beliefs. However, like all adoption processes, grandparents must be assessed to check that they are suitable.
The only circumstances in which a person cannot adopt are if:
- They are under 21 years old
- They have not been a legal resident of the UK, the Channel Islands or the Isle of Man for at least 12 months
- They have a criminal conviction or caution for offences against children or serious sexual offences (other criminal convictions or cautions will not necessarily mean a person cannot adopt)
Is adopting your grandchild a good idea?
Before adopting your grandchild, there are many things you need to consider. Adoption completely changes the structure of your family and you would become the child’s legal parents rather than their grandparents. This means, the child’s birth parents would technically be their siblings. The parental relationship between the child and their birth parents will also be officially severed and the parents will no longer have any rights in relation to the child.
This can understandably cause a lot of upset within the family. If the child is older, they are likely to be confused by the change in family circumstances. The situation may also seriously damage your relationship with your adult child (the grandchild’s birth parents).
That being said, there can be benefits to adopting your grandchild, such as:
- It provides stability and a permanent family home for the child – this can be beneficial for the child’s happiness and wellbeing
- If the parents are completely out of the picture or it is not appropriate for the child to have a relationship with them, adoption will sever the legal link between them
- If the birth parents have died, adoption may be the most suitable option
- You and your grandchild will gain stronger inheritance rights (and the birth parents will lose theirs)
- You will gain parental responsibility to make decisions about the child’s upbringing (although this can also be obtained through other methods)
Local authorities and adoption agencies will usually offer support services such as counselling to people considering adoption. It is advisable that you take full advantage of these services to make sure that adoption is the right path for you.
Our adoption solicitors can also set out all of your legal options, so that you can make an informed decision about where adoption is the best way to move forward.
How does the adoption process work?
We’ve outlined the adoption process in detail on our Adoption Solicitors page. Typically, you will need to be assessed to check you can provide a suitable home for the child. You will also need to obtain an Adoption Order to make the adoption final and to remove parental responsibility from the birth parents.
How we can help grandparents raising grandchildren
Grandparents do not have automatic legal rights in relation to their grandchildren. You will not automatically have parental responsibility which gives you the right to contribute to decisions about the children’s upbringing. Fortunately, if having your grandchildren live with you long term is in their best interests, you have lots of legal options.
As specialist family law solicitors, we can make sure that you know exactly how to achieve your goals and help with all the legal aspects of becoming your grandchild’s carer, guardian or legal parent.
As well as adoption, our expertise includes:
Child Arrangements Orders
A Child Arrangements Order (CAO) is a legal order that decides who a child should live with (residence) and how much time they should spend with the adults in their life (contact). If you are named as the person your grandchild should live with most or all of the time, you automatically receive parental responsibility so you have the rights and duties of raising the child.
As someone with a CAO, you would likely share parental responsibility with the child’s birth parents and would need their input on important decisions about their upbringing. This can be suitable if it is in the child’s best interests to continue a relationship with their parents, even if the parents cannot provide a full-time home.
As a grandparent, you will need permission from the court before you can apply for a Child Arrangements Order. We can provide practical advice and handle all the legal aspects on your behalf.
Read more about Child Arrangements Orders here.
We can help you apply for guardianship of your grandchildren. A Special Guardianship Order is a court order that places a child to live permanently with someone. As a Special Guardian, you would also receive parental responsibility for the child.
Only certain people can apply to become Special Guardians, including:
- Someone named in a Child Arrangements Order in respect of the child
- Someone the child has lived with for several years
Like with a Child Arrangements Order, the birth parents will retain responsibility. However, a Special Guardian can make decisions without the input of the birth parents, such as deciding where the child should go to school and whether they should receive certain medical treatment. They only need the birth parent’s consent for certain decisions, such as a decision to change the child’s surname.