Being appointed as a child’s ‘Special Guardian’ gives parental responsibility for the Special Guardian for the child until the child reaches the age of 18 and exclusive responsibility for the day to day care, long term care and upbringing of the child, e.g. which school the child is to attend. The Special Guardianship Order is a private law order made under the Children Act and it does not take away the Parental Responsibility from the child’s birth parents. It is intended for those children who cannot live with their birth parents and would benefit from a legally secure placement.
Those who may apply for a Special Guardianship Order include:
- A Local Authority foster carer or relative (if the child has been living with them for at least one year immediately prior to the application being made)
- A person with whom the child has been living with for 3 out of the last 5 years (which must include the 3 months preceding the application)
- Someone who has the permission of the court
- Someone who has consent of all those with parental responsibility
- A guardian of the child
- A person in whose favour a Child Arrangements Order is in place
- If the child is in care of a Local Authority and the Local Authority consents to the application being made
If a person wishes to apply for a Special Guardianship Order, they will be required to inform Children’s Services in writing of their intention to apply 3 months before submitting their application to the court. Children’s Services are required to investigate and prepare a report for the court to determine whether they believe the person making the application will be suitable as a Special Guardian. The prospective Special Guardian would also need to inform the Local Authority. The Local Authority will write a report for the court determining whether they believe a prospective Special Guardian will be suitable.
Amy Langlois, a Solicitor in our Family Team concludes “This order discharges any existing care order and confers parental responsibility, which can be exercised to the exclusion of any other person with parental responsibility apart from another Special Guardian. The Special Guardian has responsibility for day to day decisions relating to a child's care and upbringing.”
Our Family Team, based in Christchurch, also cover Bournemouth, Poole and the New Forest. If you have any questions, you only have to ask us at Frettens. Please call 01202 499255 and Amy or her team, will be happy to chat about your situation.