Special Guardianship Order

The purpose of a Special Guardianship Order (SGO) is to give children a secure, permanent home without legally severing the child’s link to their birth parents.
SGOs are commonly made regarding children who:
  • Are remaining in the care of wider family.
  • Require minimal disruption from parents in relation to decisions about their care and welfare.
  • May require a level of support from the local authority (LA) longer term.
Foster carers who choose to care for a child long term are also being encouraged to become special guardians (SGs) to reinforce the child’s sense of belonging.

What does a special guardianship order do?

An SGO is a private law order that appoints a person or persons as a child’s SG (section14A(1) Children Act 1989). It gives a person parental responsibility (PR) for a child. This is sometimes described as “super-parental responsibility” because the SG can exercise PR to the exclusion of any other person with PR, except for another SG (section14C, CA 1989). For example an SG can make decisions about a child’s schooling which overrides the decisions and wishes of the child’s parents. However a SG cannot change a child’s surname or remove them from the Country for 3 months or more without permission from the Court or the other persons with PR.
An SGO lasts until a child reaches the age of 18 unless discharged by the court.

Who can apply to be special guardian?

Any person who is aged over 18 and is not the parent of the child who is the subject of the application can apply for an SGO. More than one person can be appointed as a child’s special guardian (section 14A, CA 1989). The following persons do not require permission from the court before applying to become a special guardian:-
  • Any guardian of the child
  • Any individual in whose favour a residence order (now part of a Child Arrangements Order) is in force in respect of the child
  • Any person with whom the child has resided for a period of at least three years (this need not be continuous but must not have begun more than five years before, or ended more than three months before the application is made)
  • Where a residence order (now part of the CAO) is in force, any person who has the consent of every person in whose favour the order was made
  • Where the child is in the care of the LA, any person who has the consent of that authority
  • Any person who has the consent of each of those persons (if any) who have PR
  • A LA foster parent with whom the child has lived for a period of at least one year immediately preceding the application
  • A relative with whom the child has lived for at least one year immediately preceding the application
Any other person wishing to make an application for a SGO will require permission from the Court.
A prospective SG must give the relevant LA three months notice of their intention to apply for an SGO.

Factors of the Court when making a SGO

The Court cannot make a SGO without a Local Authority report in relation to the suitability of the prospective SG to care for the child.
The Court will consider the welfare checklist set out at section 1(3) of the CA 1989 including:-
  • The wishes and feelings of the child, considered in the light of his age and understanding.
  • The child’s physical, emotional and educational needs.
  • The likely effect on the child of any change in his circumstances.
  • The child’s age, sex, background and any characteristics of his, which the court considers relevant.
  • Any harm the child has suffered or is at risk of suffering.
  • How capable each parent (and any other person in relation to whom the court considers the question to be relevant) is of meeting the child’s needs.
  • The range of powers available to the court.
The court must also consider the following:
  • Whether a CAO in relation to contact should also be made in respect of the child.
  • If a contact order or CAO made with respect to the child is not discharged, any enforcement order relating to that contact order or CAO should be revoked.
  • Whether any section 8 order in force with respect to the child should be varied or discharged.
  • If a contact activity direction has been made regarding contact with the child and is in force, that contact activity direction should be discharged.

Additional Court Powers when making a SGO

When the court deals with an application for an SGO, it also has the power to:
  • Give leave for the child to be known by a new surname or make a specific issue order, which can include changing a child’s name.
  • Grant leave for a child to be removed from the UK, either generally or for a specific purpose
  • Attach conditions to an SGO. These are subject to the same limitations as conditions attached to a residence order/CAO. The conditions can apply to:
    • the person in whose favour the order is made;
    • a parent of the child, including the unmarried father who has not acquired PR for his child;
    • a person who is not a parent but who has PR for the child, for example, a guardian or a person with a residence order; or
    • a person with whom the child is living.
If you are considering an application for a Special Guardianship Order or are the respondent to a SGO application and would like advice and assistance, or information generally, please contact our expert family solicitors on 0113 322 9222 for a no obligation telephone call. Alternatively you can email us on enquiries@consilialegal.co.uk


Contact Laura

What Our Clients Say About Our Family Law Services

Laura Clapton has been brilliant and very professional through the Mediation process. I highly recommend her.

Jen Huggett

Absolutely five star service from Laura Clapton and her team, always kept informed of progress, and Laura was always available on the end of the phone to answer any questions. Highly recommended, thank you Consilia Legal.

Jane C

Professional and personal. Vicky was very caring and listened to my issue, advice was clear and easy to understand. Vicky ensured my mind was at ease and I knew my options. Excellent service. Sarah really knows the family sector, she puts you at ease instantly and ensures you are aware of all the options. Would definitely recommend this service. Thank you for your help.

Catherine White

Vicky guided me through the legal context of an employment and was very efficent, approachable and supportive. I would highly recommend this company and Vicky to others who need legal support and advice. Many thanks.

Maureen Sheridan

Had a great experience working with Victoria. Felt completely comfortable asking all kinds of questions and she always explained them really well.

Julia Mariani

I often get clients asking if I can assist with employment and family matters. As this is not my area of specialism I am conscious to help assist by passing them onto a trusted source who will look after the client in the best manner possible and with the same approach and ethos as myself. For employment and family matters I recommend to Consilia Legal as they contact the client promptly and provide practical no nonsense advice at a great value. I have no hesitation in recommending their services and will continue to direct my clients to them for this type of legal advice.

John Bailes

What our clients say about Consilia Legal on

  • review rating 5  Very quick and reassuring response from Andy and the team here after a very difficult situation at work. Referred from Citizen Advice Bureau because all other firms seemed less bothered about my needs versus their fees. Andy gave great advice and helped explore my options so I could respond appropriately without being cornered by my work. Ended up with a very amicable outcome! In difficult times you need people like Consilia to help guide and support you... thanks guys

    thumb Mirra Riz
    12/03/2018
  • review rating 4  Consilia have done a good job of mediating the discussions across family and financial matters. Quick responses, good communication and a helpful/flexible approach.

    thumb Rob Hennessy
    3/06/2019
  • review rating 5  Laura Clapton has been brilliant and very professional through the Mediation process. I highly recommend her.

    thumb Jen Huggett
    1/22/2019
  • review rating 5  I had a great service from Laura and her team at Consilia Legal and would certainly recommend them to others. The service was very friendly and informative keeping me up to date in a timely manner and been on hand to offer advice when needed. Thankyou.

    thumb Matthew Bell
    3/05/2019
  • review rating 5  I was most impressed with the speed and efficiency which Andy Boyde at Consilia Legal handled my case. I selected Consilia Legal after reviewing previous feedback which had positive comments regarding the areas I was interested in. The way my case was handled turned a stressful situation into a quick and stress free process. I would have no hesitation in recommending Consilia Legal.

    thumb Craig S
    1/02/2019
  • review rating 5  Professional and received good customer service. I would really recommend them as they helped me to negotiate my way out of a difficult work situation on the best terms possible. Andy was very polite and knowledgable.

    thumb Diane Holden
    3/15/2019
  • review rating 5  Great service from Andy and the team. Handled my case very professionally and I was given excellent advice. Very informative and always responded promptly. Would highly recommend.

    thumb Adam Orange
    12/04/2018

Latest articles

Emma

Congratulations to Emma who has qualified as a Solicitor today

Congratulations to our Emma Cartlidge who has qualified as a solicitor today! Emma will be joining the Employment Law team under the guidance of Director...
consilia legal partner with the childrens heart surgery fund

The Children’s Heart Surgery Fund is our chosen partner charity for 2019

Consilia legal are proud to announce that they have chosen The Children’s Heart Surgery Fund as their chosen charity for the year! The Children’s Heart...

Free Employment Law update – Thursday 28th March

Our Employment Law team will be holding a free Employment Law update on Thursday 28th March 2019. We are also really pleased to be teaming up...

Leeds

4 Park Place,
Leeds,
West Yorkshire,
LS1 2RU

 0113 322 9222
 enquiries@consilialegal.co.uk

Get In Touch

Harrogate

Windsor House,
Cornwall Road,
Harrogate,
HG1 2PW

 01423 222 220
 enquiries@consilialegal.co.uk

Got a question?
Get in touch!