Special Guardianship

If you are caring for or wish to care for a child on a long term basis, you may wish to ask the court to make a Special Guardianship Order.

Special guardianship orders are becoming more and more common and in certain circumstances are an alternative to adoption.

Many different categories of carers may become Special Guardians, such as grandparents, extended family members, friends or Foster carers.

Special Guardianship is different from adoption in that the parents legally remain parents and retain parental responsibility although their ability to exercise their parental responsibility is extremely limited.

If a special guardianship order is made, it is the intention that the Special Guardian will have responsibility for making all day to day decisions to the exclusion of the parent. It is also usually intended that the Special Guardian will provide a long term home for children until they reach adulthood.

There are a number of ways to apply to become a Special Guardian. We can advise you about what is the appropriate way in your particular circumstances.

If you wish to become a special Guardian, you will be assessed by social services. This will involve an assessment of your family circumstances as well as a medical. Social services also need to consider what support package should be put in place. This may include financial support. We are able to give you further advice about what support package should be put in place and when it should be reviewed.

To be considered as a special Guardian you do not have to be caring for the child at the time you make the application. We can give you expert advice about the merits of your application.

Funding may be available to apply for a special guardianship order either through public funding (legal aid) or in certain circumstances, social services may assist with legal fees. For more information go to ‘funding’.