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What is a Special Guardianship Order?

The UK Government has announced plans to review special guardianship orders. The British Association of Adopting and Fostering (BAAF) had previously called for a review due to concerns that children were being placed with carers that they barely knew. But what is a special guardianship order?

Special Guardianship Orders

A special guardianship order is a relatively new order introduced in 2005. In practical terms, a special guardianship order is an order made by a court appointing one or more individuals to be a child’s ‘Special Guardian’.

Special guardianship orders are intended for children who cannot live with their birth parents and who would benefit from a legally secure placement. A special guardianship order can enable a child to remain in his or her family as, unlike adoption, it does not end the legal relationship between the child and the birth parents. An order lasts until a child is 18 years of age.

What is the Relationship Between a Child and their Special Guardian?

It is common for special guardianship orders to be made in favour of grandparents or other family members who can step in and offer care for a child who might otherwise have to be cared for outside of their family in foster care.

A special guardianship order is unique as it allows the special guardian(s) to be able to make big decisions regarding the child’s life, such as where they attend school and medical arrangements. However, the special guardian(s) still need to consult with the child’s parents when making these decisions.

The use of special guardianship orders in recent years has rocketed. Between April 2013 and March 2014, 3,330 special guardianship orders were made compared with just 1,290 in 2010. The increase in the number of special guardianship orders in use in the UK steps up the importance of the Government’s review.

If you find yourself in a situation where you are considering having a child from your wider family placed with you, then it is important that you obtain advice on whether a special guardianship order will be suitable for your family.

Here at Slater and Gordon Lawyers, we have a specialist children’s team that focus on court orders for children. We can assist in providing comprehensive advice as to whether or not a special guardianship order is appropriate and offer advice on other court orders for children.

Please do not hesitate to call us on freephone 0800 916 9055 for an initial consultation or alternatively you can contact us online and we will call you.

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