Special Guardianship Orders (SGO)

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Nigel Priestley - expert advice on SGO and Special Guardianship OrdersWhat does a Special Guardianship Order mean to a grandparent?

Special Guardianship is where you take on the responsibility of caring for your grandchild until they are 18 years of age. It gives you Parental Responsibility (PR) for your grandchild over and above that of the parents. In essence you have 51% PR and the parents retain 49%, however, as the child resides with you, if the parents do not agree then you can overrule them.

A Special Guardianship Order is less severe than adoption as the child retains a link to their parents but more substantial than a Child Arrangement Order (previously known as Residence/Custody) as with a Child Arrangement Order you share Parental Responsibility for the child with the parents.


Frequently Asked Questions


Yes. If you are related to the child and they have lived with you for over a year, you are entitled to apply for the Order. If the child has lived with you for less than a year, you will require the Court’s permission to apply first.

A Special Guardianship Order is usually most appropriate when the parents of the child are unlikely to be able to work with the grandparents to make decisions in the child’s best interests. If the parents still have their own issues, it is often necessary for the grandparents to make decisions without the parents when appropriate or if there are disagreements.

A Special Guardianship Order also makes it harder for the parents to have the child returned to their care so is usually the most appropriate order if it is unlikely that the child will be returned to the care of their parents.

If the Court does not make a specific Order in relation to contact, the arrangements must be made between you and the parents and will ultimately at your discretion. You should follow the Local Authority’s recommendations but you are at liberty to change arrangements in line with the child’s best interests throughout the life of the Order.

You need to apply to the Court using the forms C1 and C13a. If you require permission you will also need to complete a C2 form. In most cases you will need to show that you have tried mediation with the parents first and also need to complete a FM1 form. There is a Court fee.

Since April 2013, legal aid is not available for Special Guardianship applications. If the child has been placed with you by the Local Authority and they have advised you to seek the Order, it is possible that they will agree to help with the cost of making the application and/or representation at hearings.

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