What is a kinship carer?
When children can’t live with their parents, someone in the extended family or a family friend might become their primary carer including, aunts, uncles, grandparents, sisters and brothers in Australian families. This is called kinship care. Kinship carers don't have set roles as parents do. A child/ren may have come to live with you for a short time, until their parents can care for them. Or you could be raising the child/ren in the long term because the child’s parents can’t do it themselves.
What if I am a grandparent carer?
The law recognises the importance of a child/ren continuing to have a relationship with grandparent’s after separation. It states that children have the right to spend time and communicate with their parents, and other people important to them, such as grandparents, relatives and members of extended families. Sometimes grandparents take on a more permanent caring role for their grandchildren.
There are some valuable resources available to assist with defining what your role as a grandparent carer:
- Family Relationships online have information about your role as a grandparent and links to supporting organisations.
- Women’s and Children’s health network who discuss various aspects of grandparenting and the roles they play.
- The Australian Parenting website, Raising Children have a dedicated grandparent section titled, Being a grandparent carer and a library of grandparent video’s where grandparents talk about becoming full-time carers of their grandchildren.
Can I apply for orders if I am the kinship/grandparent carer of my grandchild?
A parenting order is a set of orders made by a court about parenting arrangements for a child. If you are a kinship/grandparent carer, you can apply for a parenting order for the child/ren. For more information see the following:
- Parenting orders – obligations, consequences and who can help fact sheet
- Family Relationships online Parenting Guide
- Applying to the Court for orders fact sheet
- If you agree on arrangements section
- If you don’t agree on arrangements section
- Complying with orders
What happens if the parenting orders are breached?
A court can only penalise someone for failing to comply with a parenting orders, which has not been altered by a parenting plan, if another person files an application alleging the person did not comply with the order.
For more information, see the fact sheet Parenting orders – Obligations, consequences and who can help and the How do I – apply to the court when parenting orders have been breached or not complied with and Complying with orders about children sections on this website.
Where can I get legal advice?
You should get legal advice before making a decision about what to do or applying to the Court. A lawyer can help you understand your legal rights and responsibilities as a kinship parent, and explain how the law applies to each case. Legal advice is available from:
- legal aid
- a community legal centre, or
- a private law firm.
Court staff can help with questions about court forms and the court process, but cannot give legal advice. If you need legal help, you will need to get advice from a lawyer.