Care proceedings - grandparents, grandchildren and other relative Family (and other) carers - It has always been the case that, on occasion, children have to stay with family members other than their parents and the law recognises this. Should you find yourself caring for the children of a family member (sometimes called “kinship care”), Taylor&Emmet can help you work out whether you need the arrangement formalising. Children can end up living with people who are not actually related to them, such as extended family members, a former partner of a grandparent or even family friends. All of these arrangements can be considered by the court and orders made, if appropriate, to recognise the situation. When this kind of arrangement is put in place, taking legal advice at an early stage is essential, so you are ready to deal with any issues that arise. For example, if a problem was to occur at school, you need to be able to show your legal responsibility and authority for the child. We might advise you to apply for a residence order, to confirm the child lives with you and to give you parental responsibility for him/her. If the arrangement is going to be long term, a special guardianship order may be more appropriate, as you will need the extra responsibility it provides. Problems seeing children in the family When families fall out, children can, sadly, lose contact with someone they are close to, such as grandparents or younger siblings. If you have been put in this position, Taylor&Emmet can help you consider how to sort it out. We would recommend you take advice quickly, so you can maintain your relationship with the child. But even after a long gap, we can still offer advice. Sometimes these problems can be rectified simply by sending letters that result in an agreement. This can often work better than involving a court, as everyone has an input into the arrangement. If it doesn’t work, you may need to consider applying for a contact order. Paying legal costs Since April 2013 there has been a huge cut in the availability of legal aid and it is generally not available for residence, special guardianship and contact order applications. There are some limited exceptions and you would need to talk to us about your eligibility. We offer services at various rates for those who do not receive legal aid and we also have fixed fee packages available.