Principal Solicitor, Ebborn Law Limited
There is the relief when their own children have finally left home. Then there is the surprise to find that nappies or washing school uniforms is part of the household routine again. Those might be the easy tasks since it’s a matter of “been there, done that, doing it again”. But the legal issues can be harder to navigate alone.
A guardian is a person who is entitled to be part of making the really big decisions in a child’s life. This includes enrolling a child in school, giving consent for medical treatment, religion, naming a child and where a child lives. If a grandchild is living full-time with a grandparent it might be necessary for the grandparent to be appointed as a guardian for the child by the court. If there is a disagreement between guardians, for example which school the child will attend then the court can make orders to resolve the dispute.
A Parenting Order sets out who is responsible for looking after the child. It acts as a ‘boomerang’ to make sure that the child must be returned to the person who has that responsibility. It can be useful if there is a worry that the child won’t be returned. It can also set out the days, times and rules about when a child has visits with his or her parents. A Parenting Order is enforceable by the Court.
Legal Aid can be available for applying for a parenting order and guardianship orders. If a child is living with a grandparent because of a Family Group Conference outcome or because Child, Youth and Family have placed the child with his or her grandparents then it is sometimes possible for Child, Youth and Family to pay the legal fees for caregivers to get the right court orders to protect the child.