Should you apply for a Special Guardianship Order?

  • Have you been looking after someone else’s child for over 3 years?
  • Are you looking after a child with the consent of Social Services?
  • Are you a Local Authority foster carer who has had care of a child for over 12 months?

If you have answered yes to any of the above you may be entitled to make an application for a Special Guardianship Order for a child in your care.

What is a Special Guardianship Order?

A Special Guardianship Order is an Order made by the family Court appointing one or more individuals to be a child’s special guardian. It is intended for those children who, for whatever reason cannot live with their birth parents and are being cared for by someone else not necessarily a relative.

A special guardianship order secures the child’s legal placement with their carer(s) but also allows the child to remain a relationship with their birth parents.  

When awarded a special guardianship order you will also obtain parental responsibility for that child which gives you day to day control of bringing up and making decisions about them without having to seek the approval of the birth parents and anyone else who may have parental responsibility. However, the Special Guardian cannot change the child’s surname or take him or her abroad for more than three months without the agreement of everyone else with parental responsibility or permission of the court.

How do I get a Special Guardianship Order?

Three months before you make the application to the Court, you must inform the Local Authority that you plan to apply. On receipt of the notice, the Local Authority must investigate and prepare a report to the Court about your suitability to be special guardians.

Once the three month time limit has lapsed you will then be in a position to apply to the Court for a Special Guardianship Order.  Everyone who has parental responsibility for the child will need to be given a copy of the application and notified of the court dates to enable them to have the opportunity to respond.

Upon considering everyone’s position and the Local Authority’s report, the court will have decide whether it is in the child’s best interests for a special guardianship order to be made.

A special guardianship order lasts until the child reaches the age of 18 years unless varied or discharged by another order of the court.

What support can I expect from the Local Authority?

You may be entitled to special guardianship allowance, paid for by the Local Authority. However, payment is discretionary and the Local Authority will carry out a financial assessment of your needs to determine whether you should receive financial support.

Further information

This article is only meant to be a broad overview of the law relating to Special Guardianship Orders. Should you require further information or you are looking to make an application then please do not hesitate to contact one of our specialist family solicitors at Terry Jones Solicitors on 01743 285888.

 

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