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Special Guardianship Orders

A Special Guardianship Order is an order that appoints a non-parent as a special guardian for the child. The order will expressly provide that the child shall live with that person on a permanent basis and that the special guardian has acquired parental responsibility.

It may be helpful to think of a Special Guardianship Order as an order that is stronger than a Child Arrangements Order (or Residence Order), but not as extreme as an Adoption Order.

The purpose of an SGO is to give the child a permanent home but without legally severing all ties between the child and its birth parents. The SGO will remain in place until the child is 18 years old.

When Are SGO’s Often Made? 

An SGO is common in situations where a child cannot remain with its birth parents but has suitable care available in the wider birth family.

It is also common in situations where an older child wants to retain ties to its family and does not want to be adopted.

The Effect of an SGO

A special guardian will acquire parental responsibility that ranks higher than any other person’s parental responsibility for that child, except another special guardian. This means that the special guardian will often have the final say in terms of decisions about the child’s life and will have exclusive responsibility for making day-to-day decisions.

It is important to note that there are still some decisions that cannot be taken alone by a special guardian and will require the consent of everybody with parental responsibility. One example is removing the child from the country for a period of 3 months or more.

If a Special Guardianship Order is made during care proceedings, the local authority will often prepare a support plan for the special guardian(s).

How We Can Help

Special Guardianship Orders will sometimes be made during care proceedings. It may be that this has already happened, and you would like some legal advice about challenging the order or about the local authority failing to comply with its support plan.

Additionally, it may be that there is no Special Guardianship Order currently in place, but you are looking to apply to become special guardian of a child.

Our team has vast experience in dealing with Special Guardianship Orders, whether that be in relation to care proceedings or private family law cases. Please contact the us if you would like some legal advice in connection with this Special Guardianship Orders.


For further information or to speak to one of our experts, please get in touch