Special guardianship order solicitors
To speak to children law solicitor, Angelique Holm, or to a member of the London based OTS Solicitors children law team about special guardianship orders please call us on 0203 959 9123 for a discussion about how OTS Solicitors can help you or contact us through our online enquiry form.
What does a special guardianship order do?
People interested in applying for a special guardianship order want to know what a special guardianship order does and what rights and responsibilities the court order gives them. The effect of a special guardianship order is:
To place a child in your long term care; and
To give you parental responsibility for the child; and
To give you legal status to care for the child. However, the order does not sever the legal links between parent and child; and
Enables you to parent the child and exercise parental responsibility for the child without having to consult with others who retain parental responsibility for the child (for example, the child’s mother).
A special guardianship order is not the only legal way you can care for and play a pivotal role in a child’s life. If you are planning to look after a child on behalf of a friend or relative, or are already doing so, the best option is to seek legal advice about the range of children law court orders available and to discuss with a children law solicitor the type of court order that best meets the child’s needs.
The alternatives to special guardianship orders
Every child and family is different. That is why it is important that you look at the full range of children orders available so that you can make a court application that best fits your personal circumstances and the child’s needs.
Alternatives to special guardianship orders include:
Child arrangements order – A child arrangements order sets out the arrangements for where a child is to live and who the child should have contact with. A child arrangements order is the new name for custody, residence, access and contact orders. If the court orders that a child should live with you under a child arrangements order you will obtain parental responsibility for the child whilst the child arrangements order remains in force. Parental responsibility is shared with all other persons who have parental responsibility for the child; or
Adoption order – If a child is adopted by you then you become the child’s legal parent. The legal relationship between the child and their biological parents is severed and the biological parents lose parental responsibility for the child. Adoption orders, within families, change legal relationships so, for example, a grandmother or aunt becomes the child’s legal mother. Although contact between child and birth parent/s can continue either by agreement or court order, adoption orders are often viewed by the family court as not being the ideal solution in an extended family situation.
Applying for a special guardianship order
You can apply for a special guardianship order on your own or jointly with another person. However an applicant for a special guardianship order cannot be a parent of the child. An applicant for a special guardianship order must be over eighteen years of age.
Applications for special guardianship orders can be made if:
You already have a child arrangements order for the child; or
You are a relative of the child and the child has resided with you for at least one year immediately before the application for a special guardianship order; or
The child has lived with you for three out of the last five years and the child has not stopped living with you more than three months before the court application; or
You are the guardian of the child; or
The child is in the care of the Local Authority and the Local Authority agrees to you making an application for a special guardianship order; or
You are a Local Authority foster carer and the child has lived with you for at least one year directly before the making of the special guardianship order application; or
You have permission from the family court to make the special guardianship order application.
If you want to apply for a special guardianship order but need leave or permission of the court to make the application then specialist children law solicitors can advise you about the best way to secure court permission for leave to apply for a special guardianship order.
Special guardianship order assessment
Rules state that if you want to apply for a special guardianship order you have to inform the Local Authority in writing of your intention to apply for the order. You have to tell the Local Authority three months before submitting the special guardianship order application to the court.
A Local Authority social worker will investigate and provide a report for the court saying whether they think you would be a suitable special guardian for the child. A Local Authority can be asked to provide financial and practical support for a child who is subject to a special guardianship order.
Ending a special guardianship order
A special guardianship will usually last until the child is eighteen. However, an application to court can be made to change or end the special guardianship order.