Special Guardianship Orders

The solicitors at Sugare & Co have years of experience helping family members and foster carers to apply for Special Guardianship Orders and your interests are always our priority. If you are a considering applying for a Special Guardianship Order, contact our Family Law Solicitors on 0113 244 6978 or by leaving your details via our online enquiry form to arrange a free initial consultation.

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What is a Special Guardianship Order?

A Special Guardianship Order (SGO) is an order that makes one or more people a child’s Special Guardian’s.
It gives a person parental responsibility (opens new window) (PR) for a child. This PR is commonly known as “super-parental responsibility” because the Special Guardian can exercise PR to the exclusion of any other person with PR, e.g a parent. A Special Guardian can make decisions about the child’s care, such as schooling, that override the wishes of the child’s parents.
An SGO is usually suitable for non-parents who are a caring for a child, e.g a grandparent. An SGO lasts until a child reaches the age of 18 unless the Court decides that it should be discharged earlier. 

What Support Will be Provided to a Special Guardian?

With every Special Guardian report required, the Local Authority will also be assessing the Special Guardian and the child’s need for support and services. The Local Authority will provide a support plan with a Special Guardian report setting out what support, services and possible financial support a child will be provided with.

Things that the Special Guardian can’t do

A Special Guardian cannot do the following unless they have the permission of every person with PR or an order of the court:

  • Change the child’s surname.
  • Remove the child from the jurisdiction for a period of three months or more.

An SGO does not affect any rules requiring every person with PR to consent on a particular matter (section 14C(2), CA 1989).
Despite the overriding power that SGs have, parents and others with PR should be consulted on issues such as internal UK relocation and major medical procedures. Parents can bring an application for a specific issue order (opens new window) to challenge an SG’s decision.

Who can apply to be a Special Guardian?

Any person who is aged over 18 and is not the parent of the child who is the subject of the application can apply for an SGO. Permission from the child’s parents or permission from the Court is usually required before an application for a Special Guardianship Order can be made. However, there are certain exceptions to this.

What checks are done before a Special Guardianship Order is made?

The local authority (LA), on either the receipt of a notice or if directed by the court, must investigate and prepare a report about the suitability of the prospective SG to care. In summary, the report must include the following:

  • Information about the child and the child’s family.
  • Information about the prospective Special Guardian.
  • Information about the LA that compiled the report.
  • A summary of the child’s health and the health of the prospective Special Guardian prepared by a medical professional.
  • The implications of making the SGO for those involved.
  • The relative merits of an SGO and other orders.
  • A recommendation regarding special guardianship.
  • A recommendation regarding contact between the parents and the child. 

As part of the background information, Local Authority’s will look at the criminal history of any Applicant. They will also look at whether there has been any previous social services involvement with the family.

Talk to Us

Contact our family law solicitors in Leeds today to discuss your situation and to find out how we can help. Contact us on 0113 244 6978 or click here to request a free consultation using the online booking form.