Special guardianship

Special guardianship is a formal court order which allows parental control over a child by individuals other than the parent. These could be grandparents, close relatives or even family friends.

Special guardianship allows children to remain within the family unit or with another significant person and to have a sense of normality.

It is important to note that not all children under special guardianship have been in care or ‘looked after’ by the local authority or social services. A parent may allow a child to live with a family member for a number of reasons. For example, they may have not bonded with the child or they have to work abroad and do not want to disrupt the child’s education.

Any one who is over 18 years old and is significant in the child’s life can apply. You could be:

  • Grandparents
  • An aunt or uncle
  • A brother or sister
  • Another relative
  • A family friend
  • A foster carer who the child has lived with for at least one year immediately before the application
  • A couple making a joint application (do not have to be married)

When making an application for a special guardianship order, consent is needed from the person with parent responsibility which may be:

  • The parent
  • A person with a residency order
  • The local authority

If consent is not given, the court can accept the application and grant a special guardianship order if it is deemed to be in the child’s best interest.

Special guardianship support

Families with children on special guardianship orders are entitled to an assessment of need. They may be able to access a range of support services in addition to the continuing support of their social worker. These may include:

  • Financial support
  • Support in managing contact with birth parents or family
  • Respite support
  • Training

Find out more about the support and guidance available in the document below.

If you wish to speak to someone about special guardianship, call the Special Guardianship Team.

Special Guardianship Team

020 8227 5491

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