What is 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. The special guardian’s parental responsibility 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.

What is the difference between a special guardianship order and an adoption order?

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.

Can anyone apply to be a special guardian?

Anyone who is over the age of 18 years and is not a parent of the child may apply to be a special guardian, but some individuals require the Court’s permission to make the application.

How do you apply for a special guardianship order?

The local authority must be given no less than 3 months’ notice of the proposed applicant’s intention to apply to the Court for a special guardianship order.

3 months after having given the local authority notice of the proposed applicant’s intention to apply to the Court, application can then be made on Form C1 which must be supported by a statement on Form C13A.

What is the local authority’s role?

Having received at least 3 months’ notice of the proposed application, the local authority must investigate and prepare a comprehensive report for the Court which will include recommendations as to whether the applicants are considered suitable to be special guardians.

How long does a special guardianship order last?

Unless varied or discharged by the Court beforehand, the special guardianship order will last for the duration of the child’s minority, so unless that child reaches the age of 18 years.

Can a special guardianship order be revoked?

An application to vary or discharge (revoke) a special guardianship order can be made to the Court but in most circumstances, the Court’s permission will be required to make this application.

The child can apply for the special guardianship order to be varied or discharged, but only if the Court is satisfied that the child has a sufficient level of understanding. 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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