A special guardian is a person who has been granted a court order called a Special Guardianship Order (SGO) which gives them parental responsibility for a child up to the age of 18. An SGO does not legally sever the child’s relationship with their birth parents and there is an expectation that contact with parents and other family members will continue where it is in the child’s best interests.
Special guardians must be 18 or over and have an existing or potential relationship with the child. A written application for a special guardianship assessment for a child can be made by the following:
any guardian of the child
a local authority foster carer with whom the child has lived for one year immediately preceding the application
anyone who holds a residence order with respect to the child
anyone with whom the child has lived for three out of the last five years
where the child is in the care of a local authority, any person who has the consent of the local authority
anyone who has the consent of all those with parental responsibility for the child
any person, including the child, who has the leave of the court to apply
Special Guardianship Order
The court may also make a Special Guardianship Order in any family proceedings concerning the welfare of a child if they consider an order should be made. This applies even where no application has been made and includes adoption proceedings. When considering whether to make a special guardianship order, the welfare of the child is the court’s paramount consideration.
A Special Guardianship Assessment should take between 10 – 12 weeks.
The following will be undertaken to assess prospective special guardians
A parenting capacity assessment based upon the Assessment Framework.
References will be obtained
Support Services Assessment
The local authority will pay for the special guardians to seek legal advice