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What is a special guardianship order?
A special guardianship order appoints one or more individuals to be a child’s ‘special guardian’ (not biological parents). The order is put in place by the court during family proceedings. The court validates the order when it’s agreed that the children cannot live with their birth parents and will benefit from a legally secure placement.
Furthermore, the special guardian/s is given parental responsibility. Parental responsibility can be described as a “super-parental responsibility” because the special guardian can exercise parental responsibility without input from any other person. Therefore, a special guardian can make decisions for the children, such as which school they attend and what activities they will participate in.
The birth parents are still legally the child’s parents, but their parental responsibility is limited.
Although special guardians have enhanced parental rights, meaning they make decisions over raising the child, there are some restrictions in place.
Special guardians do have restrictions from doing the following unless they have permission from anyone with parental responsibility or an order from the court:
- Change a child’s name.
- Take the child out of the jurisdiction (England and Wales) for a period exceeding three months.
The court timetable will usually allow time for the undertaking of the disclosure barring service checks, which can take up to 60 days to be processed.