Special Guardianship Orders

Family solicitors for special guardianship orders

If you’re a close family member, such as a grandparent, aunt or uncle wishing to take over the parental responsibility for a child/ren, you may wish to consider applying for a Special Guardianship Order. This order gives the adult the right to make parental decisions for the child but there is a continuing duty to consult with any other adults that hold parental responsibility (such as parents). Sometimes a local authority will assess you as a potential special guardian within care proceedings. Either way, you need to receive independent legal advice.

If you’re already caring for the child, the National Legal Service’s team of family solicitors can provide you with the specialist advice needed to navigate the often complex process required when dealing with special guardianship orders.

What are special guardianship orders intended for?

Special guardianship status is specifically for close family members or friends taking on the permanent care of a child within the family. Special Guardianship Orders (SGO) were primarily introduced to fill the gap between Child Arrangement Orders (CAOs) and adoption. They are permanent and apply to the child until the minor reaches the age of 18.

If you are caring for a child that is not your own because their parents are not able to look after them, a Special Guardianship Order affords you legal recognition and responsibility and, in some cases, ensures the practical and financial support that may be required to best care for the child.

The parents retain their parental responsibility and maintain a relationship with the child through contact arrangements. It will be the Special Guardian who has overarching responsibility for the wellbeing of the child and who takes on their day-to-day care.

There are a number of instances where the family court and local authority consider special guardianship orders, including when the child is already under the care of the local authority.

Why choose National Legal Service divorce solicitors?

There are many considerations to take into account when dealing with Special Guardianship Orders. Aside from the practicalities of the person seeking to become Special Guardian meeting the requirements of being over the age of 18 (this could include an existing guardian, foster carer or someone who has lived with the child) there are also numerous practical and financial implications to consider.

The process of obtaining Special Guardianship Orders can also be fraught with legal complexities, meaning it’s wise to consult with an experienced family solicitor with a track record in this field before you begin proceedings. You must give three month’s written notice to the local authority of your intention to apply for a Special Guardianship Order and we recommend that you consult with our team before filing that application.

After the court receives the SGO application, your suitability as a guardian will be assessed. This typically requires the local authority to prepare a report and support plan. Taking on the parental responsibility for a child who isn’t your own can be stressful and confusing but our empathetic team is here to help.

Speak to a member of our legal team for dedicated, up-to-date Special Guardianship Orders guidance now. New guidance was issued in June 2020 so it is important you have the up to date information as to the guidance on best practice in this area. Contact National Legal Service now on 020 3601 5051.

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