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James Mather
James Mather,
Category: Family Law
Satisfied Customers: 22629
Experience:  Senior Partner at Berkson Wallace
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My sister-in-law has had a nervous breakdown and is in hospital.

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My sister-in-law has had a nervous breakdown and is in hospital. Her 4 year old daughter is now living with her grandparents temporarily while my sister in law is in hospital (my mother in law).
Her grandparents on the other side who hardly ever see their grand child want custody but we feel she is better served staying where she is. Do we need to do anything to keep my niece with my mother in law?
My sister in law is not in a relationship with the father.


Grandparents have no right of access or contact unless there is
some kind of existing strong relationship such as a grandparent has been a carer for some time. The courts wont grant a right automatically.

This explains

On these facts therefore the other GPs have little chance of getting residence as they have little contact to date.

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James Mather,
Category: Family Law
Satisfied Customers: 22629
Experience: Senior Partner at Berkson Wallace
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Customer: replied 5 years ago.

Many thanks - would it also help to get my sister in law to sign a form giving consent to her mum to look after my niece considering she is in hospital with mental health problems or would this carry no weight if it went to court?


Many thanks for your swift reply too - very impressed

Hi At present the child is very vulnerable and there are a number of actions which need to be taken to protect her.However which they are will depend on whether or not the father is named on the birth certificate - and how long her mother is likely to be hospitalisedIf you could let me know this then I can let you know what forms DO need to be signed Claire
Customer: replied 5 years ago.

Thanks Claire,


Yes, the father is named on the birth certificate but to complicate things further, him and my sister in law were in an abusive relationship - the father has ADHD and was sent to prison for battering my sister in law.


We are not sure how long she will be in hospital but we think it will be weeks rather than days

Is the father still in prison and is there a possibility that the other grandparents would in fact actively try and remove the child from her current carers?
Is her mother mentally capable of dealing with legal matter?
Customer: replied 5 years ago.

The father is out of prison. My niece is with her grandparents on her mums side, a very stable family environment but the otrher grandparents I believe are actively looking to gain custody.


Her mother is capable of signing a document giving custody to her mother and i'm sure a doctor could witness it too if that is any help

Just to double check - there are no existing residence orders in place?
Customer: replied 5 years ago.

No, there is no other residence order in place - my niece has always lived with her mum with no orders ever in place

Then the problem is that if his parents persuaded him to do it the father could simply collect the child and take the child to their house and no one has the power to prevent him from doing so - as the only other person who has parental responsibility is in hospital.
Less serious but still a worry is the possibility that the grand parents would simply turn up and take the child from school - they have no more rights than her current carers but they have no LESS right either.
This of course depends on just how desperate they are to take the child into their care.
The only way to secure this is for the maternal grandparents to make an application to the court for permission to apply for a shared residence order with the mother which will give the grandparents a form of Parental Responsibility.
The father can object but from what you say I have little doubt that the court will see this as a sensible way of protecting the child