Special Guardianship

While every effort is made to keep children with their biological parents, there are exceptional circumstances where it’s in the child’s best interest to be placed in the care of someone else.

At Mark Reynolds Solicitors, we know that such circumstances can be highly emotional and complex, and our special guardianship solicitors treat these delicate cases with care, compassion, and sensitivity.

Whether you need help applying for special guardianship, changing a special guardianship, or getting a special guardianship reversed, our team of specialists advise on the best course of action.

We also offer a no-obligation initial consultation service, where you can gain straightforward, confidential, and free legal advice.

Contact our team of special guardianship solicitors by calling 0800 002 9577.

What is a Special Guardianship Order?

Special guardianship aims to give a child a safe, secure, and permanent home.

It’s sometimes used as an alternative to adoption to allow someone who is not a child’s parent to be granted parental responsibility for the child.

Unlike with adoption, the child’s parents usually retain some parental responsibility and may also still be in contact as long as it’s deemed to be appropriate and in the child’s best interest.

Special guardianships remain in place until the child is 18.

Under the Children Act 1989, a Special Guardianship Order can be used to appoint one or more individuals to become a child’s special guardian. It’s intended for those children who cannot live with their birth parents and who require permanent security.

Special guardianship is usually only granted under extreme circumstances if the court deems it to be in the child’s best interest because they are suffering emotional or physical damage due to the actions or inaction of their parents.

Once a Special Guardianship Order has been granted, the special guardian takes on the majority of parental responsibility for the child, allowing them to make important decisions regarding their upbringing.

This includes decisions about the child’s education and health care. The birth parents retain some parental responsibility, and so may also be involved in major decisions about the child’s life.

Who can apply for a Special Guardianship Order?

Usually, special guardians are people who already have a close relationship with the child. This could include family members like grandparents, close family friends, and previous foster carers.

The following people can apply for a Special Guardianship Order:

  • any guardian of the child
  • any individual who has a residence order
  • any person with whom the child has lived for at least three years out of the past five years
  • anyone with consent from the local authority if the child is in care
  • anyone with the consent of all parties who have parental responsibility for the child
  • a local authority foster parent with whom the child has lived for at least one year preceding the application

How to apply for a Special Guardianship Order

You must apply to the court for a Special Guardianship Order to gain special guardianship for a child.

Before applying for a Special Guardianship Order, the local authority for the child/children will need to be consulted and asked to prepare a report about the suitability of the person wishing to apply.

If the child in question is deemed old enough, their wishes will be considered, as well as those of the child’s birth parents and anyone else with parental responsibility for the child.

Need help navigating the Special Guardianship Order application process? Our special guardianship solicitors are here to guide you through the process.

Changing or reversing a Special Guardianship Order

Special Guardianship Orders can only be changed or reversed by the court.

Special guardianships aim to provide children with security and a permanent home, so they should remain in place unless circumstances alter significantly.

The court will only agree to terminate a special guardianship and return the child to their birth parents if they believe it to be in the child’s best interest to do so.

Who choose Mark Reynolds Solicitors?

At Mark Reynolds Solicitors, we always prioritise the child’s best interest in matters concerning special guardianships.

We understand the delicate nature of cases involving children’s wellbeing and handle them with the utmost sensitivity and discretion.

We aim always to provide a caring and empathic service.

If you require advice regarding special guardianships or help filling out an application to apply for special guardianship, give our team of special guardianship solicitors a call on 0800 002 9577.

We’re here to support you at every step.