Solicitors with specialist experience in applications for Special Guardianship Orders.
Guardianship applications and orders
Our Family Lawyers have years of experience dealing in all aspects of Family Law and can assist and advise you in applications for a Special Guardianship Order. We will support you through the process from giving the required notice to the Local Authority to drafting the application, advise you on the support plan offered by the Local Authority and represent you at Court hearings .
In many cases if a child has been placed with you by the Local Authority, then they will pay for you to have legal advice on their assessment of you and the support plan.
What is Special Guardianship?
Special Guardianship is an alternative to adoption and involves a Guardian being appointed, with full parental responsibility rights, on an intended long trem basis, by the Court under the Children Act 1989. Applications for an Order are generally made in a situation where a child is suffering from emotional and/or physical damage due to the actions or inactions of his or her parents.
In contrast with adoption, the child's parents may be able to have some involvement with the child in the future, depending on court approval.. If an Order is made to appoint 1 or more guardians, they have legal rights and powers to make all necessary decisions about the child's upbringing and welfare, although depending on underlying circumstances, parents may be voluntarily consulted discreetly by guardians before important decisions are made for the child.
Who can apply?
The most important criteria for eligibility to become a Special Guardian are :that you must be over 18 and 1 of teh following needs to apply :-
- Someone with parental responsibility consents
- You have a Child Arrangements Order or a Residence Order for the child.
- The child has lived with you for 3 years out of the last 5. If you are a relative the period is 1 year leading up to applying.
- 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.
If none of the above apply, you will need the court;s permission to apply for a Special Guardianship Order.
Importance of local authority report
Before the court considers teh application, the Children Services team at the relevant Local Authority must file a report which includes key information including :
- Details of the child's family including siblings and what relationships are like between teh child and all family members
- Assessment of the child's relationship with his/her parents.
- The wishes and feelings of the child and the parents.
- An assessment of the Guardian's suitability and his/her current family situation
- Parenting capacity of the Guardian.
- Medical information relating to not only the child, but also the guardian and parents.
- An assessment and recommendations including suitability of the Guardian, the alternatives and any contact with parents and others.
The Local Authority will also need to assess and where an order is granted, provide assistance with finances and other support, on a means tested basis, to assist the Special Guardian.
If you would like to speak to one of our specialist Family Solicitors, please get in touch.
OUR EXPERT SOLICITORS CAN ADVISE YOU ON THE SUPPORT PLAN OFFERED BY THE LOCAL AUTHORITY