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Special Guardianship Orders

A Special Guardianship Order is a legal way of providing long-term stability for a child who cannot return to live with their birth parents and for whom adoption is not appropriate

It gives the person caring for the child clear, long-term responsibilities for the child's upbringing while without breaking the legal link between the child and their birth parent.

A Special Guardianship Order (SGO) is made through a formal application to a court.  You can apply to become a Special Guardian if you are over 18 and you are:

  • Any guardian of the child
  • A Local Authority foster carer with whom the child has lived for one year immediately before the application is made
  • A relative of the child with whom the child has lived for one year before the application is made
  • Anyone who holds a Residence Order in respect of the child
  • Anyone who has permission from
    • The Local Authority OR
    • All those with parental responsibility for the child OR
    • The court.

When deciding whether to make a Special Guardianship Order the child's welfare will be the court's paramount consideration.  A Special Guardianship Order will not be made if the court does not feel it is in the best interest of the child.

Once a Special Guardianship Order has been made, the Special Guardian will normally be the permanent carer for the child until that child reaches the age of 18.  A Special Guardianship Order gives the Special Guardian parental responsibility for the child. 

Find out more about Special Guardianship Orders and how to apply for one. 

You can download/print this information as a factsheet:  PDF Document Special Guardianship Orders (Factsheet 039) (PDF, 26KB)Opens new window

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