Here are my 5 simple tips:

The normal position is that grandparents always need to get permission, or what is called “special leave”, from the Family Court before applying for a custody or parenting order. The same is true of an application for guardianship or being involved in long term decision making.

  1. There are exceptions to this rule which are readily applied by grandparents.
  2. The first one is when a parent has died and the second one is when the parent is unwilling or unable to exercise contact. In either of these situations, special leave is not required from the Court.
  3. There are exceptions to this rule which are readily applied by grandparents. The first one is when a parent has died and the second one is when the parent is unwilling or unable to exercise contact. In either of these situations, special leave is not required from the Court.
  4. It is common for Child Youth & Family to support grandparents having custody or a parenting order in the Family Court. This occurs when there are care and protection concerns, including the exceptions noted above.
  5. Financial support may be available to grandparents through the unsupported child benefit. This is a weekly payment authorised under the Social Security Act which helps carers supporting a child or young person whose parents can’t care for them because of a family breakdown. In my opinion, the best support network for grandparents is a charity called ‘Grandparents raising Grandchildren’. They have an excellent website at www.grd.org.nz as well as giving information on financial support, for example, there is an excellent section on legal support.

In my opinion many grandparents feel overawed by the Family Court system when they are caring for their grandchildren. There are resources discussed above, including the ability to apply for Legal Aid in some situations. 


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