When children are placed in the care of members of their extended family, the Local Authority will often recommend that they are made subject to a special guardianship order (SGO). But what is it?

SGOs preserve the basic legal relationship between a child and his or her parents. Unlike adoption, mum and dad will still be mum and dad. They continue to have parental responsibility.
However, the special guardians will share parental responsibility and will be able to override the parents’ decision making in all but three key areas. They are:

– The special guardians cannot change the child’s surname

– The special guardians cannot take the child out of the UK for more than 3 months, without the consent of everyone with parental responsibility or permission from the Court

– They cannot agree to the child’s adoption.

In addition, parents would need permission from the Court before they could apply to discharge a SGO. All this means that special guardians end up being ‘in the driving seat’ and the people who take decisions for the child in their care, without the parents losing all legal rights and ties to the children.

Check out my next blog for more on special guardianship orders!