BBC News reports that it has seen data which show that the number of special guardianship orders made in England has tripled in two years. The number of babies involved, it says, rose from 160 in 2012 to 520 in 2014. Most of the children are aged four or under. Meanwhile, the number of children placed for adoption has been falling.
Special Guardianship Orders (SGO) confirm that a child lives with someone other than their parent. A Special Guardianship Order gives that person Parental Responsibility for the child to enable them to make decisions for the child e.g. choice of school or religion. The child’s parents retain Parental Responsibility, but the existence of the Special Guardianship Order means that the person with whom the child lives can make decisions for the child even where the parents do not agree. This can be important in ensuring that the placement of the child is not undermined.
A Special Guardianship Order is intended to be permanent and can only be varied in limited circumstances.
Special Guardianship Orders often arise when a younger child is placed with a family member; sometimes after the intervention of social services.
Special Guardianship Orders can only be made by a Court, and the Judge will require a report to be prepared by social services setting out their views about the application and consider what support (both practical and financial) the special guardian and child may require. The Social Worker’s report therefore requires careful scrutiny and knowledge of what support the local authority are obliged to provide or may be appropriate.
An application for a Special Guardianship Order can also arise at the conclusion of care proceedings when a child has been placed with a family member and the application is made with the support of the local authority; who will often fund advice to the prospective special guardian or the application itself. We are able to accept instructions on this basis whilst not letting the source of funding compromise our independent advice.
Our solicitors have a wealth of experience advising and representing both parents and applicants. It can be confusing to know what to do for the best; our solicitors can discuss all the available options with you and advise you on the merits of each available order. For those people not eligible for legal aid we offer a fixed fee initial appointment of up to one hours advice for £50 plus VAT.
To arrange to meet with one of our solicitors please contact us on 0161 4297251.