Our specialist children law solicitor, Romano Sidoli, is often asked, ‘Can grandparents apply for a special guardianship order?’ Here is a brief summary of the key aspects of this area of law that will be relevant to grandparents wishing to apply for a special guardianship order. Romano is always happy to provide free initial guidance to grandparents or other family members who are thinking about applying.
A ‘special guardianship order’ is a court order that appoints someone as a child’s ‘special guardian’ when that child is unable to live with their birth parents and requires the security of a long term placement.
Whilst it stops short of granting full adoption rights a special guardianship order cannot be discharged by the birth parents without permission of the court.
It is increasingly common for grandparents to apply for special guardianship orders, though other family members can also apply. To be successful they must convince the court that it is in the best interests of the child for them to be a special guardian.
When making a special guardianship order the court will also consider contact arrangements for the birth parents with the child.
Once the special guardianship order is made It gives the special guardian an enhanced level of parental responsibility over the child. This means they will take day to day decisions relating to the child’s care and upbringing. Among the powers that a special guardian has is the right to remove a child from the UK for up to three months.
The local authority plays an important role in the special guardianship process and will be required to assess the need for support services.