What is a Special Guardianship Order?

by | Jul 12 2021 | Family Law

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By Kitty Leask
Kitty is the latest addition to LGBT Lawyers' team. A member of the LGBT community herself, Kitty dedicates her time to promoting the LGBT fight for equality and is here to help all of our clients find the right lawyer to support their case.

What is a Special Guardianship Order? | 5 Minute Read.

If a child’s biological parents can no longer look after them, and if the child is not eligible for adoption, you can apply to be a special guardian. The appointed special guardian is given parental responsibility for a child and and will become responsible for their welfare.

A special guardianship order makes an individual in charge of the day to day life of a child up until the age of 18. A child may need special guardianship in many situations, for example, if it is unsafe for them to live with their parents or if the biological parent has a serious illness.

Who can apply for a special guardianship order? 

A special guardian is usually an individual with a close relationship to the child, such as a carer, relative or foster parent. To qualify for special guardianship, there are specific criteria you will need to meet, which include:

  • You are over the age of 18 
  • You are the child’s guardian
  • The child has lived with you for 3 of the last 5 years 
  • All parties who have parental responsibility have consented to the order 
  • The court has consented to the order 
  • You are a foster parent or biological relative who is one of the child’s parents
  • You have a child arrangements order or a residence order related to the child’s needs 
And who can’t apply?

You can’t apply for special guardianship if you don’t meet any of the above criteria. You also won’t be able to apply for special guardianship if you are one of the child’s biological parents.

How do i apply for special guardiaNSHIP?

The application process for a special guardianship order can be fairly complex, which is why we always recommend having legal support when you decide to apply. A special guardianship order will be put in place by the court during family proceedings and is fundamentally their decision.

The court will review all the necessary criteria, such as:

  • The emotional, practical and educational needs of the child.
  • What effect the change in circumstances will have on the child
  • Any harm or violence that has previously happened to the child
  • Any other specific considerations that may affect the child such as mental health or disabilities

You’ll need to alert your local authorities within 3 months of your intention to apply for special guardianship. You will also need to fill in a C1 form, a C13A form, an FM1 form and write a statement supporting your application. Your statement can include details of your relationship with the child and your plans for the child’s care.

Specifications of a special guardianship order

A special guardianship order will grant you full parental responsibility, meaning you will be in charge of the child’s welfare going forwards. However, there are certain things that you won’t be able to do without consulting those who have parental responsibility. These include: 

  • Changing the child’s name
  • Taking the child outside of the UK for 3 months or more 
  • Consenting to the child’s adoption
Does a care order discharge a special guardianship order?

A care order will not have the authority to override a special guardianship order. However, a special guardianship order does have the authority to discharge a care order, as stated in section 91 (5A) of the Children Act 1989.

Revisions to the process

As of June 2020, recommendations came into play to update the process of granting special guardianship. Revised updates from the court now ensure the following: 

  1. More comprehensive assessments and support plans 
  2. Improved training and preparation programmes for prospective special guardians 
  3. Revisions on the process for contact with parental contact
  4. A reduction in the number of supervision orders which need to accompany SGO’s 

Why might I need a lawyer for my special guardianship order?

As previously mentioned, applying for a special guardianship order can be complex. There are multiple application stages, forms, checks and assessments involved, all of which can be confusing and intimidating if handled alone. 

Whether you simply need advice on the process or you want to instruct a lawyer to execute the application on your behalf, we can help. We can connect you to a specialist family lawyer today to start your special guardianship process. 

need help becoming a special guardian?

Our friendly team are on hand to connect you with the best possible lawyer, to set you on your path to becoming a special guardian. 

SPEAK TO OUR TEAM ON 020 3795 9020 

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