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Special Guardianship Orders (commonly referred to as SGOs) are often made in both private and public law proceedings.
An SGO is a legal order where the Court appoints a person, often (although not exclusively) a relative as a Special Guardian of the child until they reach adulthood at aged 18.
An SGO provides the person/s with Parental Respnsibility for the child/ten. The parents retain parental responsibility (unlike adoption). Significantly, however, the SGOs Parental Responsibility is often referred to as “enhanced.” This is because the SGO may ultimately exercise this responsibility to the exclusion of the parents whilst acting in the child/ren’s best interests.
SGOs can be made within Care Proceedings following an SGO assessment by the Local Authority. Additionally, they can be made on a private basis. In those circumstances the proposed SGO would need to inform the Local Authority of their intention to apply to Court to enable them to carry out a full assessment.
Financial and practical support may be available for Special Guardians although this varies between Local Authorities. Financial support in particular is discretionary and means tested.
Special Guardians are able to apply for Child Benefit and Child Tax Credit if applicable.
Special Guardianship Orders provide the child/ren the opportunity to remain within the family in circumstances when this otherwise may not be possible. It allows the child/ren to maintain links with their birth family and, in many circumstances, have regular contact with their parents.
It is fair to say that it is a significant responsibility and one that is not taken lightly by all concerned. It is really important that any prospective Special Guardian seeks legal advice to ensure that this is the right decision and that the Local Authority have fully considered the support and assistance they are able to provide the family.
For any help relating to child care matters, contact our team on 01924 431774 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.