Special Guardianship Orders

If you want to know more about applying for Special Guardianship, contact our friendly team of family law solicitors. We can advise whether you are able to get a Special Guardianship Order.

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By Claudia Price - 6th July 2021

A Special Guardianship Order (SGO) is a type of Court order. It places a child or young person in the care of one or more individuals who are not their birth or adoptive parents.

What is a Special Guardianship Order?

A Special Guardianship Order places a child to live with someone permanently, who is not their birth or adoptive parents. From the date the Order is made, the special guardian is legally responsible for looking after the child until they reach 18 years of age.

What can a special guardian do?

As a special guardian, you are given parental responsibility for the child. This means you are responsible for making day-to-day decisions about the child’s upbringing and welfare. Usually, you can make these decisions without consulting the birth parents. The exception is important or major life decisions, such as changing the child’s surname. In this instance, you will need the consent of everyone with parental responsibility to proceed. If consent cannot be obtained, you will have to get permission from the Court instead.

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Who can apply to be a Special Guardian?

You can apply for a Special Guardianship Order if:

  • You are a Local Authority foster carer with whom the child has lived for a period of one year directly before the application; or
  • The child has lived with you for three of the last five years (and the child has not stopped living with you more than three months before the application); or
  • You are the guardian of the child; or
  • The child is in Local Authority care and the Local Authority consents to you making an application; or
  • You have a Child Arrangements Order or a Residence Order in respect of the child ; or
  • You are a relative of the child and the child has resided with you for at least one year immediately pre-dating an application; or
  • You have permission from the court to make the application; or
  • You have the consent of those who have parental responsibility for the child.

To become a special guardian, you must be over the age of 18. You cannot be a parent of the child, but you can be a grandparent or other relative.

Who do I have to notify of my intention to apply?

You are required to inform your local council in writing of your intention to become a special guardian. This must be done at least three months before your application. Child Services will then investigate your circumstances and prepare a report for the Court. This report will offer their professional opinion as to whether you are suitable as a special guardian.

If there is a current Court order in place, you are required to inform anyone named or involved within existing proceedings.

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Can I apply to discharge or vary the Special Guardianship Order?

Yes – if, as a parent, your circumstances have changed significantly, you can apply to the Court to vary or discharge the Order in place. The Court will require evidence of any changes, before considering your application.

You can also seek to vary or discharge an Order if you are the special guardian.

Speak to our child law solicitors

If you want to know more about applying for Special Guardianship, contact our friendly team of family law solicitors. We can advise whether you are able to get a Special Guardianship Order. If you like, we can then manage the entire application on your behalf. We can also help you discharge or vary the existing order, if your circumstances have changed since it was made.

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