Special Guardianship Orders

Unfortunately, there may be a time where the biological parents of a child are unable to provide the necessary care for their children. Whether it be due to the parent’s living arrangements or simply a lack of financial support to care for the child, there may be a time in which you need to use special guardianship orders to maintain the welfare of a child.

Here at 1Solicitors, we have an expert team of family lawyers who can help to explain your rights to a special guardianship and provide support on disputing or applying for one.

We understand that the wellbeing of any child is paramount, which is why our team provide 24/7 legal assistance throughout the process of your case; aiming to secure a safe and suitable arrangement for a child that you’re concerned about or looking to care for.

What is a special guardianship order?

Often referred to as an ‘SGO’, a special guardianship order is a legal document under the Children Act 1989 that is put into place when people who are not the parent of a child wish to look after them in the long-term.

These orders grant the person looking to care for the child with parental responsibility up until the child reaches the age of 18. However, unlike cases of adoption, the biological parent does not lose parental responsibility once somebody else has been granted a special guardianship order.

Because an SGO allows another person to have parental responsibility, anyone who has been named as the child’s Special Guardian is able to make key decisions relating to the child’s life. This can include decisions on their health, education and living arrangements.

Who can apply for one?

Special Guardianship Orders are assessed by a family law court and anyone who isn’t the child’s parent or currently has parental responsibility can apply for one.

This means that grandparents, aunties and close friends are able to apply for the special guardianship of a child if they’re wanting to care for the child in the long-term.

Special guardianship order assessment

In order to apply for a special guardianship order, the person looking to receive parental responsibility must inform Children’s Services by writing a notification of their intentions to apply for responsibility. This must be done at least three months before submitting an application to your local family court.

After receiving your letter of intention, the Children’s Services will investigate the case and prepare a legal report to analyse the suitability of the new applicant receiving a special guardianship order. The report will include details such as:

  • The child’s opinion on who they’d like to live with, if appropriate
  • Information on the child, biological parents and the person applying for Special Guardianship
  • A summary prepared by a professional medical advisor

Special guardianship orders for financial support

In some cases, your local family court may provide special guardianship order financial support to help you take care of the child. These payments are usually made to contribute towards the child’s accommodation, transport and other factors that help with the cost of maintaining a child.

 

Do parents have to apply for a special guardianship order?

Because parents of a child usually gain parental responsibility automatically, they rarely need to apply for a SGO.

When does a special guardianship order end?

If there are no disputes or special circumstances, a SGO will automatically end when the child turns 18 years old.

How to end a special guardianship order

If you currently have special guardianship of a child and would like to make alterations to the agreement, there are two ways that you can do this:

  • Varying a special guardianship order: You can opt to vary the terms if you’re wanting to change certain things outlined in the agreement.
  • Ending a special guardianship order: If you want the order to come to an end, you must petition to end the special guardianship agreement.

Because special guardianship orders are handed to provide children with stability and a permanent home in the long-term, it’s usually difficult to end an order without good reason. However, it is possible if you are able to prove a significant change in circumstances that indicate it would be better for the child involved. In order to do this, you should consult the advice of a special guardianship solicitor as they will be able to inform you of the best method to successfully the order.

Considering child welfare

Once you’ve written and appealed your decision to end a special guardianship order, the Court will review the case and decide on the decision that is most-suitable for the child.

A judge will review the evidence and either grant or decline permission to discharge a special guardianship order based on this.

Here at 1Solicitors, we have years of experience working on behalf of relatives and grandparents looking to proceed with a special guardianship order assessment and we’re confident that together, we’re able to support the living arrangements that are best-suited for the child involved.

We’re also able to help those with special guardianship to end an order; providing support and advice on how to submit a successful petition.

If you’re looking for special guardianship guidance and would like to speak with a trained legal professional, contact our team today.

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