We are often approached by grandparents when their own children go through a divorce or separation with a common question – “what about us?” Often, a child’s relationship with their grandparent during and following divorce or separation can be forgotten about and it is important to remember that a child’s relationship with the wider family is equally as important as maintaining a relationship with both parents too, if it is safe to do so.

Sometimes, there are scenarios when grandparents wish to seek parental responsibility for their grandchild/grandchildren, such as if they live with them due to the fact that the parent(s) are unable to care for them or are absent. In that scenario, grandparents do not have automatic rights.

Extended family members (such as grandparents) have to apply to the Court to obtain parental responsibility.

Therefore, what are the options for grandparents in relation to their grandchildren?

Child Arrangements Order

Grandparents can ask the Court for an Order that their grandchild/grandchildren live with them and the Court would also be able to grant grandparents parental responsibility when considering this application. Alternatively, if grandparents do not want parental responsibility but want to see their grandchild/grandchildren, a Court can make a Child Arrangements Order for contact between grandparents and a child (after permission to file the application is granted by the Court).

Special Guardianship Order

These Orders last until a child is 18 years old. Grandparents can apply for a Special Guardianship Order if their grandchild/grandchildren have lived with them for at least 1 year immediately prior to the application being made, they are the guardian or the child is in the care of the local authority and the local authority consents to the application being made. In addition, if there is a “lives with” Child Arrangements Order as per the above, grandparents can apply for a Special Guardianship Order. If a Special Guardianship Order is granted by the Court, parental responsibility will be granted to the grandparents. This does not take away parental responsibility from those that already had parental responsibility.


Adoption is a life-long arrangement that removes parental responsibility from those who previously held it.

If you are a grandparent and need specialist advice from one of our lawyers, please do not hesitate to get in touch.

T: 029 2034 2233
E: Enquiries@wendyhopkins.co.uk

Author: Fay Jones

Published: 19.06.24