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Grandparents cannot always assume parental responsibility

The family courts will consider age and state of health when considering whether grandparents can meet the need of a child, discusses Marilyn Stowe

10 August 2015

During times of family crisis it is common to see extended family, especially grandparents, step into the breach and provide much needed support. This is to be commended, but it begs the question whether intervention by grandparents on a more permanent basis is ultimately the right solution to family problems. It depends.

This was highlighted recently before Chelmsford Family Court, where grandparents to a three-year-old girl, C, applied for a child arrangement order so C could stay with them on a permanent basis. The reason for the application was that the child’s mother, M, had been hospitalised for mental health issues. The father was not in the picture.

C was in foster care and the local authority and her guardian wished to put her up for adoption.

The main arguments revolved around the grandparents’ ability to look after a three year old. C’s grandmother had a history of depression and was on medication.

District Judge Hod...

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