Special Guardianship Order Solicitors

It is sometimes the case that a child or young person cannot live with one or both of their parents.  One of the options that are available to the courts when deciding who has responsibility for the child is known as a Special Guardianship Order.

It is the Family Court that decides whether a Special Guardianship is the best solution to a long-term arrangement for a child when they cannot live with one or both of their parents. It is an Order that was created in the Adoption and Children Act 2002 and involves an assessment being made of a proposed carer.


What is a Special Guardianship Order?

This is an Order which is made by the Court placing a child in the care of a person other than their parent.  Usually it is made in favour of an extended family member but can be made to a foster carer.

There are four main aspects to a Special Guardianship Order. These are:

  1. To outline a child or young person’s long-term living arrangement.
  2. To allocate Parental Responsibility to the Special Guardian.
  3. To help to maintain links between the child and their birth parent(s).
  4. To affirm that the Special Guardian will take day-to-day control of the upbringing of the child “to the exclusion of all others with Parental Responsibility except another Special Guardian”.

If you are considering applying for a Special Guardianship Order, you must first notify the Local Authority in writing.  The Local Authority then have three months to complete an assessment after which an application can be sent to court.

An application for a Special Guardianship Order can also be made within existing care proceedings.

What are the alternatives to a Special Guardianship Order?

When a child cannot live with their birth parent(s), there are some alternatives to the Special Guardianship Order being made:

Child Arrangements Order

This sets out the child’s living arrangements. This is decided by the court, and the person/people with a Child Arrangements Order is given Parental Responsibility on an equal level to the Parental Responsibility of the parents.

Long-term Fostering

This provides the child with a long-term placement with a foster family, but not a permanent one. This is not necessarily a stable situation for a child and the foster parent does not get Parental Responsibility for the child.


An adoption means that the child or young person is placed into a permanent home. Once the adoption has been granted, Parental Responsibility is taken away from the birth parent(s), and in most cases, all links with the birth parent(s) are lost.

Special Guardianship Order


Who can apply for a Special Guardianship Order?

An application for a Special Guardianship Order may be individual or joint, although joint applicants do not need to be married. Special Guardians must be 18 or over and must not be a parent of the child in question.

The following people are entitled to apply for a Special Guardianship Order without needing to first seek the leave of the court:

  • Any guardian of the child;
  • Any person who is named in a child arrangements order as a person with whom the child is to live;
  • Any person who has the consent of each person named in a child arrangements order as a person with whom the child is to live;
  • Anyone with whom the child has lived for a period of at least 3 years (which need not be continuous, but must not have begun more than 5 years before, or ended more than 3 months before, the making of the application);
  • A relative with whom the child has lived for a period of at least 1 year immediately preceding the application;
  • Where the child is in the care of a local authority, any person who has the consent of the local authority;
  • Any person who has the consent of all those with parental responsibility for the child;
  • Any other person, aged 18 or over (other than a parent) may apply for a Special Guardianship Order if they have the leave of the court to make the application.


How to apply to be a Special Guardian?

People who are applying for a Special Guardianship Order must be over 18 years old and can be more than one person per child.  You do not necessarily need to be married to apply for Special Guardianship together. In addition to this, you may apply for a Special Guardianship Order if:


  • You are a foster carer from the Local Authority who has had the child living with you for over one year directly before the application is made
  • The child has lived with you for three out of the last five years – and the child has not spent more than three months living separately from you
  • You are the child’s guardian
  • The Local Authority has granted you the ability to make an application and the child is in the Local Authority’s care
  • In respect of this particular child, you have a Residence Order or Child Arrangements Order
  • The child has been living with you continuously for one year prior to the application and you are a relative of the child
  • The court has granted you permission to apply to be a Special Guardian

What support is available to a Special Guardian?

If you are granted a Special Guardianship Order, extra support can be available to you under the Adoption and Children Act 2002. It should be noted that this support is normally only available to children who were once looked after by a Local Authority after an assessment. If they were not, an application would have to be made for an assessment to determine whether you are eligible for the support.


Some of the support services that are available include:

  • Mediation to help with any contact issues
  • Access to relevant support groups
  • Extra training to help with the needs of the child
  • Financial help – Special Guardianship Allowance
  • Advice and counselling
  • Therapy
  • Respite care


To apply for an assessment for support for the child, the Special Guardian, the parent, a child of the Special Guardian, or any other person that the Local Authority deems to be significant may contact the Local Authority to request it. They will then look into your case and send you a response along with their reasons for it.

Why choose Waldrons?

Flexibility We are available for urgent hearings at Court and remotely if required.
Expertise Our team has members of the Law Society Children Panel and Resolution. We are specialists in Children Law.
Established We have a good reputation for delivering Children Law advice.
Legal Aid This is generally available to all parents. We will guide you through the application process.
Location We cover hearings throughout the Midlands and occasionally further afield.
Communication The team is contactable by mobile phone, email, WhatsApp and text.
Special Guardianship Orders

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Any solicitor can say they are experienced in what they do. We go the extra mile to demonstrate our expertise. Many of our specialists have undertaken independent assessments of their knowledge and skills. Our accreditations give you the assurance that you are dealing with a specialist.

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