• 2 min read

How to end a special guardianship order


A special guardianship order appoints one or more individuals to be a child’s special guardian and affords parental responsibility to those caring for the child. Special guardianship orders are sometimes considered appropriate in circumstances where the child is being cared for on a permanent basis by a member of the wider family where adoption is not in the child’s best interests.

Whereas an adoption order would remove the parents’ parental responsibility, the special guardian would share parental responsibility with the parents and the legal link between the child and their birth family is therefore retained. The special guardian’s parental responsibility however, overrides that of the parents and the special guardian is entitled to make decisions relating to the child without securing the consent of the parents in certain circumstances.

Special guardians may also be entitled to financial support from the local authority to assist them with the care of the children.

The process of applying for a special guardianship order is a complex and lengthy one and requires the preparation of a comprehensive report by the local authority who will then make recommendations to the Court as to whether the applicants are suitable to be the child’s special guardians. If the applicants are considered suitable, the local authority will also be required to consider what, if any, financial support they can offer to the special guardians in caring for the child. The Court will need to be satisfied that a special guardianship order is the most appropriate order for the child and must be of the opinion that this is preferable to an adoption order.

A special guardianship order can be varied or discharged, so ended, by the Court upon an application having been made by the special guardian themselves; a parent or guardian of the child; any person who has the benefit of a child arrangements order stating that the child lives with them; anyone who has or immediately before the special guardianship order was made, had parental responsibility for the child; the child themselves or a local authority who has secured a care order for that child.

The child; any parent or guardian of the child; any step-parent who has acquired and not lost parental responsibility for the child or any individual who immediately before the making of the special guardianship order had, but no longer has, parental responsibility for the child will need the Court’s permission to make an application to vary or discharge (end) the special guardianship order. The Court will only grant a child permission to make an application if satisfied that the child has sufficient understanding to do so. The Court will not grant permission to any other applicant unless satisfied that there has been a significant change in circumstances since the making of the special guardianship order.

It is, therefore, often extremely difficult to vary or discharge a special guardianship order and legal advice should be sought before considering any such application.

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