Need legal help and assistance with Special Guardianship Order? Contact our specialist team of specialist guardianship solicitors in London, Manchester and Birmingham for fast, friendly, reliable and fixed fee legal services for Special Guardianship Order. Our expert team of family law solicitors are specialists in dealing with Special Guardianship Orders. Our top-rated special guardianship solicitors have wealth of knowledge and extensive experience to provide specialist legal advice and representations for all matters involving Special Guardianship Orders.

As a question to our top specialist guardianship lawyers for free online advice for special guardianship order and one of our legal experts will respond to your free advice enquiry as soon as possible.

What Is A Special Guardianship Order?
How Secure Is A Special Guardianship Order?
When Might Special Guardianship Be The Preferred Option?
Who Can Apply For Special Guardianship Order?
What Is The Procedure For Special Guardianship Order?
What Support Services Are Provided By Local Authorities
How Can We Help?
How Much We Charge?
Need Help? Book An Appointment
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What Is A Special Guardianship Order?

A special guardianship order is a court order made under the Children Act 1989 appointing one or more persons to be a child's 'special guardian'. Application for Special Guardianship Order may be made by an individual or jointly by two or more people to become special guardians. Joint applicants do not need to be married. Special guardians must be 18 or over. The parents of a child may not become that child's special guardian.

Special Guardianship Orders were introduced into the Children Act 1989 by the Adoption and Children Act 2002.  A special guardianship order is intended for those children who cannot live with their birth parents and who would benefit from a legally secure placement as per family court order. The Special Guardianship Order gives the special guardian parental responsibilities, and leaves the guardian free to make decisions about how to bring up your child or children. The special guardianship order does not change birth parent's legal relationship with the child, so they remain a member of birth parent's family even though they are living with their special guardian.

How Secure Is A Special Guardianship Order?

A Special Guardianship Order is a more secure order than a Child Arrangements Order because a parent cannot apply to discharge it unless they have the permission of the Family Court to do so, however it is less secure than an adoption order because it does not end the legal relationship between the child and his/her birth parents.

A Special Guardianship Order gives the special guardian legal parental responsibility for the child which is expected to last until the child is 18. But, unlike Adoption Orders, these orders do not remove parental responsibility from the child’s birth parents, although their ability to exercise it is extremely limited.

In practice, this means that the child is no longer the responsibility of the local authority, and the special guardian will have more clear responsibility for all day-to day decisions about caring for the child or young person, and for taking important decisions about their upbringing, for example their education. And, importantly, although birth parents retain their legal parental responsibility, the special guardian only has to consult with them about these decisions in exceptional circumstances.

When Might Special Guardianship Be The Preferred Option?

Any decision to apply for a Special Guardianship Order should clearly always be based on meeting the needs of the child or young person, but there are particular situations where it might be more appropriate:

  • Older children and young people in long-term care, as described above, who may wish to retain some legal ties with their birth family and who do not want to be adopted.
  • Unaccompanied asylum-seeking children who need a secure, permanent home here, but have strong attachments to their family abroad.
  • Prospective carers from minority ethnic groups who may wish to offer a child a permanent family, but have religious or cultural difficulties with adoption as it is set out in law.
  • Kinship care, where members of the extended family may not want to adopt the child, but do need more security and clarity about day-to-day decision making.

Who Can Apply For Special Guardianship Order?

Close relatives of a child can apply to be their Special Guardian – and this might involve grandparents, an uncle or aunt, or a godparent or a close family friend applying to the court for a Special Guardianship Order.

The following people may apply to be special guardians:

  • Any guardian of the child;
  • Any individual who has a child arrangements order or any person where a child arrangements order is in force and who has the consent of the person in whose favour the child arrangements order is made;
  • Anyone with whom the child has lived for at least three years out of the last five years;
  • Anyone with the consent of the local authority if the child is in care;
  • A local authority foster parent with whom the child has lived for at least one year preceding the application;
  • Anyone who has the consent of those with parental responsibility;
  • Anyone who has the leave of the court.

NOTE: You must be over 18 years of age and you can apply on your own or jointly with another person.

What Is The Procedure For Special Guardianship Order?

Anyone wishing to apply for a Special Guardianship Order must inform the local authority of their intention three months ahead of submission. You must then make an application to the family court. The Children’s Services department will then contact you to assess your suitability and will prepare a report for the court outlining their recommendations.

There is nothing in the Special Guardianship Regulations setting out a planning process which local authorities must follow, as there is for adoption. Each local authority will need to establish their own policies and procedures to make a decision about special guardianship for children in their care, and it is not necessary to have a panel to make this recommendation.

3 Months Written Notice

Any person who wishes to apply for a special guardianship order must give three months' written notice to the local authority of their intention to apply. The only exception to this is where a person has the leave of the court to make a competing application for a special guardianship order where an application for an adoption order has already been made. This is in order to prevent the competing application delaying the adoption order hearing.

Local Authority Report

Local authorities are required to produce to the court a report on all children, not just those who are looked after, when an application is made. On receipt of notice of an application, or if the court makes a request, the local authority must investigate and prepare a report to the court about the suitability of the applicants to be special guardians.

The regulations say that the local authority report should include certain key information about the child such as:

  • Whether the child has brothers and sisters and details of both parents.
  • The relationship a child has with other family members and the arrangements for the child to see or keep in touch with different family members.
  • Details of the child's relationship with his/her parents.
  • The parent/s' and the child's wishes and feelings.
  • The prospective Guardian's family composition and circumstances.
  • Parenting capacity.
  • Medical information on the child, prospective special guardian and the birth parent(s).
  • An assessment of how a Special Guardianship Order would meet a child's long term interests as compared with other types of order.

This report must include information about the child, the child’s wishes, the child’s birth family, contact arrangements, the prospective special guardian and recommendations about whether or not an order should be made. The local authority is expected to start work on this report, or arrange for someone else to do it, as soon as possible after receiving the notice. The court cannot make an order without having received a report. Local authorities are expected to ensure that the social worker who prepares the report is suitably qualified and experienced, but there are no restrictions on who can write the report as there are for adoption.

Court Decision

The court must decide that a special guardianship order is the most appropriate order to make in the best interests of the child. The court must consider whether, in addition to the making of a special guardianship order, a contact order should be made and whether any existing Section 8 Orders should be varied or discharged. The court must have the benefit of the local authority report dealing with the suitability of the applicant and any other matters that the local authority consider relevant before it can make an order (Children Act 1989, section 14A(8), (9). When considering whether to make a special guardianship order, the welfare of the child is the court's paramount consideration and the welfare checklist in section 1 of the Children Act 1989 applies.

Before making a special guardianship order, the court must consider whether to vary or discharge any other existing order made under section 8 of the Children Act 1989. This could include a contact order or a residence order. The court should also consider whether a contact order should be made at the same time as the special guardianship order. A contact order may be made, for example, to require continued contact with the child’s parents.

At the same time as making a special guardianship order, the court may also give leave for the child to be known by a new surname and give permission for the child to be taken out of the UK for periods longer than three months.

What Support Services Are Provided By Local Authorities?

Each local authority must make arrangements for the provision of special guardianship support services which may include:

  • Financial assistance (means tested);
  • Assistance with the arrangements for contact between a child, his/her parents and any relatives that the local authority consider to be beneficial;
  • This assistance can include cash to help with the cost of travel, entertainment, and mediation to help resolve difficulties on contact;
  • Respite care;
  • Counselling, advice, information and other support services;
  • Services to enable children, parents and special guardians to discuss matters, this might include setting up a support group;
  • Therapeutic services for the child.

How Can We Help You?

Our team of dedicated Family Lawyers have years of experience dealing in all aspects of Family Law and can assist and advise you in securing a Special Guardianship Order.  Applying for a Special Guardianship Order is a big decision and it is very important to get the right legal advice and representations. Our experienced family lawyers offer clear, sound legal advice on Special Guardianship Orders and can talk you through the considerations you need to make before you decide if this is the correct order for you and the child.

As your appointed legal representative for a Special Guardianship Order, our highly experienced family law solicitors can provide the required legal help and assistance with your Special Guardianship Order which may include the following:

  • We will assess your eligibility for a Special Guardianship Order by fully assessing your personal circumstances;
  • We will give the required notice to the Local Authority for a Special Guardianship Order;
  • We will advise you on and assist you with an application to the Family Court for a Guardianship Order;
  • We can represent you in family court hearing where the Judge will decide whether a Special Guardianship Order is in the best interests of the child;
  • We can also advise you on the allowances and support you should expect to receive by law and statute and statutory regulations and whether the support plan being offered by the Local Authority meets the requirements of the child and negotiate on your behalf with the Local Authority.

How Much Sunrise Solicitors Charge For a Special Guardianship Order?

Our Fixed Fees For Special Guardianship Order

Our fixed fees for various stages of the special guardianship order are given in the fee table below. The agreed fixed fee will be dependent on the volume of work involved in the case and the complexity of the matter. Please be advised that our fixed fees do not cover the Barrister's fees.

Casework Stage Fixed Fee Range
  • preparing and filing notice of an application for Special Guardianship Order with the relevant local authority;
  • attending the court the initial court hearing.
From £700 + VAT To £1,000 + VAT
Interim Hearing (if listed) From £500 + VAT To £800 + VAT

Final Hearing

Preparation for Final Hearing which includes the following:

  • complying with court directions;
  • preparing any witness statements;
  • instructing and briefing the Barrister for the court hearing;
  • attending any pre-hearing conference with the barrister, where necessary;
  • making necessary preparations for the final hearing;
  • attending the family court for Final Hearing to assist the Barrister in the case.
From £3,000 + VAT To £4,000 + VAT

Our Hourly Rates For Special Guardianship Order

  • Our family law solicitors can act for your matter on hourly rate basis with hourly rate from £120 + VAT to £200 + VAT per hour in relation to your special guardianship order application. The agreed hourly rate will be dependent on the complexity of the matter.

FAQs - Special Guardianship Order

What are useful online sources of information and guidance for Special Guardianship Order?

Special Guardianship Guidance

Statutory guidance on the special guardianship services local authorities need to provide in accordance with the Children Act 1989.

Form C13A

Form C13A is used to provide a statement in support of your application for a special guardianship order. You can add a supporting statement to your application to become a child’s special guardian.

Form N142

Form N142 is used to apply for Guardianship Order.

Special guardianship: guide for family court users (CB4)

This is a guidance for anyone who is thinking of applying for a special guardianship order.

What is the purpose of a Special Guardianship Order?

A special guardianship order is intended for those children who cannot live with their birth parents and who would benefit from a legally secure placement as per family court order. The Special Guardianship Order gives the special guardian parental responsibilities, and leaves the guardian free to make decisions about how to bring up your child or children. The special guardianship order does not change birth parent's legal relationship with the child, so they remain a member of birth parent's family even though they are living with their special guardian.

Who can apply for a Special Guardianship Order?

Close relatives of a child can apply to be their Special Guardian – and this might involve grandparents, an uncle or aunt, or a godparent or a close family friend applying to the court for a Special Guardianship Order.

The following people may apply to be special guardians:

  • Any guardian of the child;
  • Any individual who has a child arrangements order or any person where a child arrangements order is in force and who has the consent of the person in whose favour the child arrangements order is made;
  • Anyone with whom the child has lived for at least three years out of the last five years;
  • Anyone with the consent of the local authority if the child is in care;
  • A local authority foster parent with whom the child has lived for at least one year preceding the application;
  • Anyone who has the consent of those with parental responsibility;
  • Anyone who has the leave of the court.

NOTE: You must be over 18 years of age and you can apply on your own or jointly with another person.

Who cannot apply for a Special Guardianship Order?

A parent of a child may not be appointed as the child's special guardian.

What is a local authority report for a Special Guardianship Order?

Local authorities are required to produce to the court a report on all children, not just those who are looked after, when an application is made. On receipt of notice of an application, or if the court makes a request, the local authority must investigate and prepare a report to the court about the suitability of the applicants to be special guardians.

The regulations say that the local authority report should include certain key information about the child such as:

  • Whether the child has brothers and sisters and details of both parents.
  • The relationship a child has with other family members and the arrangements for the child to see or keep in touch with different family members.
  • Details of the child's relationship with his/her parents.
  • The parent/s' and the child's wishes and feelings.
  • The prospective Guardian's family composition and circumstances.
  • Parenting capacity.
  • Medical information on the child, prospective special guardian and the birth parent(s).
  • An assessment of how a Special Guardianship Order would meet a child's long term interests as compared with other types of order.

This report must include information about the child, the child’s wishes, the child’s birth family, contact arrangements, the prospective special guardian and recommendations about whether or not an order should be made (See the schedule to the relevant regulations for further details). The local authority is expected to start work on this report, or arrange for someone else to do it, as soon as possible after receiving the notice. The court cannot make an order without having received a report. Local authorities are expected to ensure that the social worker who prepares the report is suitably qualified and experienced, but there are no restrictions on who can write the report as there are for adoption.

What support services are provided by local authorities?

Each local authority must make arrangements for the provision of special guardianship support services which may include:

  • Financial assistance (means tested);
  • Assistance with the arrangements for contact between a child, his/her parents and any relatives that the local authority consider to be beneficial;
  • This assistance can include cash to help with the cost of travel, entertainment, and mediation to help resolve difficulties on contact;
  • Respite care;
  • Counselling, advice, information and other support services;
  • Services to enable children, parents and special guardians to discuss matters, this might include setting up a support group;
  • Therapeutic services for the child.

What decisions Special Guardians cannot make on their own?

The special guardians cannot make the following decisions on their own:

  • Changing the child's surname;
  • Granting the child permission to marry;
  • Placing the child for adoption;
  • Consenting to the child being sterilised;
  • Granting parental responsibility to a father or step parent.

What option is available to a party with parental responsibility who disagrees with an application for special guardianship order?

If a party with parental responsibility disagrees with an application for special guardianship they can make an application to the Court and apply for a Specific Issue Order or a Prohibited Steps Order. Although it is recommended that any disagreements are resolved through mediation, the Court will always make their decision based on what is considered to be best for the child, taking into account the report prepared by the Local Authority.

What factors the family court will consider to make a Special Guardianship Order?

When considering whether to make a Special Guardianship Order, the family court’s primary consideration is the best interests of the child concerned.

The family court will also have regard to:

  • the wishes and feeling of the child concerned (as far as they can be obtained and in light of the child’s age and level of understanding);
  • the child’s physical, emotional and educational needs;
  • the likely effect on the child of any change in his/her circumstances;
  • the child’s age, sex, background, and any other characteristic which the court considers relevant;
  • any harm which the child has suffered or is at risk of suffering;
  • how capable each of the child’s parents, and any other person in relation to whom the court considers the question to be relevant, is of meeting the child’s needs;
  • the range of powers available to the court under the Children Act in the proceedings in question.

Before making a special guardianship order, the court must also consider whether there are any existing orders, such as a child arrangements order and whether it is necessary to vary or discharge these, or make such an order in addition to a special guardianship order, such as a child arrangements to set out the arrangements for the child to spend time with their parents.

Can I get a Special Guardianship Order for my child removed or varied?

Although a Special Guardianship Order is usually in place until a child is 18, if there has been a significant change in circumstances the order can be changed in one of two ways:

  • The terms of the order can be altered;
  • The order can be removed completely and the child returned to their parents

Anyone wishing to end a Special Guardianship Order must apply to the court, where the evidence will then be examined to determine if the change in circumstances is significant enough to vary  the original order. The court will also take into consideration the likely impact of their decision on the child and how disruptive another change in living arrangements would be for them.

What are the alternatives to a Special Guardianship Order?

In the situation where a child is considered to be at risk of harm if they remain in the family home, there are a few alternatives to a Special Guardianship Order which are as follows:

Foster Care

Unlike a Special Guardian, a foster carer does not have parental responsibility for a child and so is unable to make key decisions about the child’s care and upbringing. Even if the placement is long-term, foster care does not always afford the child the sense of security and belonging that can be gained through a Special Guardianship Order.

Child Arrangements Order

A Child Arrangements Order is a Court Order that sets out details of who is responsible for the care of a child. This type of Court Order is usually used in cases where the parents cannot agree between them how to split the care of their child/children.

A ‘child arrangements order’ decides:

  • where your child lives;
  • when your child spends time with each parent;
  • when and what other types of contact take place (phone calls, for example).

‘Child arrangements orders’ replace ‘residence orders’ and ‘contact orders’. Parents with these orders do not need to re-apply.

Adoption

Adoption severs all connection between the child and their birth parents, placing them permanently with another family. Birth parents lose all parental responsibility once the court order has been issued and links with the wider biological family are also lost in the majority of cases.

Does Special Guardianship Order give parental responsibility?

A Special Guardianship Order gives the special guardian legal parental responsibility for the child which is expected to last until the child is 18. But, unlike Adoption Orders, these orders do not remove parental responsibility from the child’s birth parents, although their ability to exercise it is extremely limited.

In practice, this means that the child is no longer the responsibility of the local authority, and the special guardian will have more clear responsibility for all day-to day decisions about caring for the child or young person, and for taking important decisions about their upbringing, for example their education. And, importantly, although birth parents retain their legal parental responsibility, the special guardian only has to consult with them about these decisions in exceptional circumstances.

How long does the Special Guardian Order last?

A Special Guardianship Order usually lasts until your child is 18 years old. However, if circumstances change significantly the Family Court can vary or even discharge the Order.

Divorce & Family Law News

No-fault divorce to start in autumn 2021

Couples seeking a no-fault divorce will have to wait until autumn 2021 even though proposed legislation removing fault from the divorce process has reached the finishing line of its parliamentary journey.

The Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Bill concluded its passage through the House of Commons yesterday. It will return to the House of Lords to consider an amendment before receiving Royal assent. However, lord chancellor Robert Buckland told MPs that the bill’s reforms will not come into force on Royal assent ‘because time needs to be allowed for careful implementation’.
Buckland said: ‘At this early stage, we are working towards an indicative timetable of implementation in autumn 2021.’

However, family lawyers are delighted to see the bill reach the end of its parliamentary journey. The Law Society said ‘no-fault’ divorce will bring divorce law into the 21st century.
Jo Edwards, head of family at London firm Forsters, said: ‘Along with most family lawyers, and indeed the general public, I was thrilled to see the bill conclude its passage in parliament this week after 30 years of campaigning by Resolution and others and, in recent years, many false starts. Despite vocal last-minute attempts by some backbench MPs to derail the bill, we finally have the prospect of a more civilised, dignified divorce process fit for the 21st century.

‘The fact that couples will be able to petition for divorce jointly is a hugely important step symbolically and the introduction of a minimum overall timeframe shows that this is not the "quickie divorce" that some have suggested.  Because the detail of the rules around the new process, as well as court forms and the online portal, will need to be looked at in light of the new legislation, it is not likely that no-fault divorces will be a reality in England and Wales until late 2021 or even early 2022. For the 100,000 or so couples who divorce each year, they can't come a day too soon.’ READ MORE FROM SOURCE

Enquiry Form

Our Services

We provide specialist legal services from our offices in London, Manchester and Birmingham in following areas of law:

Sunrise Solicitors is the trading name of Sunrise Solicitors Ltd (company registration no. 6405492). Sunrise Solicitors Offices are regulated by SRA under SRA ID 490903 (London Office) and SRA ID 645256 (Manchester Office). Sunrise Solicitors are also members of Immigration Law Practitioners' Association (ILPA).

Copyright © 2020 Sunrise Solicitors, All rights reserved