Family Law

Special Guardianship Order

Caring for a child is a significant responsibility and if you are not the child’s biological parent it can be difficult to make decisions about their day-to-day and future care.  In this situation, applying for a Special Guardianship Order may be the answer.

Becoming a Special Guardian for a child under the age of 18 will grant you parental responsibility allowing you to make important decisions about the child’s welfare.  Our Child Law specialists can guide you through the application process and provide the necessary support to ensure the best interests of the child or children involved are at the heart of any decisions made.

We offer a free initial no obligation consultation to give you the opportunity to discuss your circumstances in more detail with a member of the Family Law department and understand all of your options prior to proceeding. Here, we have answered a variety of questions relating to Special Guardianship Orders; to discuss your own situation in more detail with a member of our experienced team, contact us today.


Special Guardianship Order Frequently Asked Questions

What is a Special Guardianship Order (SGO)?

A Special Guardianship Order is a legal arrangement granted by the Court that gives an individual or individuals the legal authority and responsibility to care for a child until they reach the age of 18. This order is typically sought when it is not appropriate for a child to live with their birth parents, but adoption is not considered necessary or suitable.

What is the purpose of a Special Guardianship Order?

The primary purpose of an SGO is to provide stability and permanence for a child who cannot live with their birth parents due to various reasons, such as parental incapacity or other safeguarding concerns. It allows the child to grow up in a secure and nurturing environment, often with a relative or someone with an existing close relationship to the child.

What are my rights and responsibilities as a Special Guardian?

Becoming a Special Guardian is an important role as you will be responsible for making all of the decisions about a child’s future.  The decision should not be taken lightly as you will be providing the foundations for how the child will be raised.

The decisions you will be required to make include the following:

  • Parental Responsibility: Special Guardians acquire parental responsibility for the child, allowing you to make significant decisions about the child’s upbringing and welfare, for example where they will live.
  • Day-to-day care: Special Guardians are responsible for the day-to-day care and upbringing of the child, providing them with a stable and supportive home environment, for example where they will go to school.
  • Contact with birth parents: While an SGO grants the Special Guardians parental responsibility, it does not necessarily sever the legal ties between the child and their birth parents. In many cases, contact arrangements with birth parents and other relatives may be agreed upon, depending on the best interests of the child.

Who can apply for a Special Guardianship Order?

In order to be eligible to apply for an SGO, there are certain criteria that should be met.  You may be able to apply for an SGO if you are any of the following:

  • A guardian or local authority foster parent of the child.
  • A person who has the consent of everyone with parental responsibility for the child.
  • Anyone with whom the child has been living for at least one year before the application.
  • Any person who has the Court’s permission to apply.

How does the Court decide whether to approve a Special Guardianship Order?

Before granting an SGO, the Court will conduct a thorough assessment of the proposed Special Guardians’ suitability to care for the child. The assessment will consider factors such as the stability of the home, the relationship between the child and the prospective Special Guardians, and the ability to meet the child’s physical, emotional, and educational needs.

The assessment can be an overwhelming process as your suitability to raise the child will be scrutinised, including a review into your personal and professional lives, as well as your finances and your home.

How long does a Special Guardianship Order last?

An SGO remains in force until the child reaches the age of 18, unless the Court decides to discharge it earlier if it is in the child’s best interests.  The welfare of the child will always be the top priority for the Courts and local authorities alike and, once granted the SGO, there will be supervision about your continued suitability to be a Special Guardian.

Is there support available for Special Guardians?

Local authorities are required to provide support to Special Guardians, which may include financial support or access to various services aimed at helping them fulfil their responsibilities effectively.  These services can help you connect with other Special Guardians in a similar situation, giving both you and the child a network with which to build a new life.

Contact our Child Law Solicitors

Special Guardianship Orders have significant implications for both you as the Special Guardian and the child or children involved. If you are considering applying for an SGO or have been offered the opportunity to become a Special Guardian, our Child Law specialists are here to help and support you.

We can guide you through the legal process, ensure that your rights and the child’s best interests are protected, and provide expert support throughout the journey.  Contact one of our Child Law Solicitors from our offices in AndoverRomseySalisburyTotton and Witney by using the Contact Form, emailing or using one of the telephone numbers below: