Special Guardianship Orders
Sometimes circumstances arise in which children are not able to live with their parents and have to be cared for by someone else. These arrangements may be made by the parents or a social worker may be involved.
As a grandparent, aunt, uncle or godparent, your position in relation to your grandchild, niece, nephew or godchild is not automatically protected by law; it is only those who have parental responsibility who are protected.
A Special Guardianship Order (SGO) grants the holder parental responsibility over the child until he/she reaches the age of 18. This does not remove the parental responsibility of the parents, but limits it to only major decisions. The intention is that the Special Guardian will have unilateral responsibility for all of the day-to-day decisions about caring for the child and their upbringing.
An SGO is a Private Law Order but is increasingly being used in cases where the Local Authority is, or has, been involved with the child/children. It provides permanence for the child without the legal separation from their birth family that is associated with adoption.
An SGO can be made in favour of more than one person and joint applicants do not have to be married. A Special Guardian must be over 18 and can’t be the child’s parent.
If you wish to apply for an SGO you are required to inform the Local Authority, in writing, of your intention to apply, three months before submitting your application to the Court. The Local Authority will then investigate and prepare a report for the Court to determine whether it believes you are suitable to be a Special Guardian.
If deemed suitable, the Local Authority is required to make arrangements for the provision of Special Guardian support services. These include counselling, advice, information and other services. Financial support may also be available for the Special Guardian.
Unfortunately, Legal Aid is no longer available for Special Guardianship applications. However, if the child has been placed with you and the Local Authority has advised you to seek legal advice, it is possible that it will agree to be responsible for the costs of your application and representation at hearings.
If you would like more information or advice on Special Guardianship Orders please do not hesitate to call, make an appointment or drop in to our Ashton or Hyde offices.
Hyde office: 0161 368 631 Ashton office: 0161 330 2875
The contents of this article are intended for general information purposes only and shall not be deemed to be, or constitute legal advice. We cannot accept responsibility for any loss as a result of acts or omissions taken in respect of this article