Special Guardianship Orders are considered particularly suitable where a child has been place with a family member who is not a parent, which may for example result from care proceedings. The aim of the SGO is to provide a child who is placed with a non-parent with some permanence in his or her living arrangements. This type of order was created as an alternative to adoption or residence orders.
In order for the person with an SGO to be the primary carer for the child, they are granted certain powers and responsibilities with the order. A special guardian has parental responsibility (PR) which he can exercise to the exclusion of all other holders of the rights and responsibilities associated with PR.
Nevertheless, there are restrictions in place regarding the exercise of PR and rights under it. For example, the remit of the powers of person with an SGO does not allow them to change a child’s surname. Further, they cannot remove the child from the UK without the permission of either the Court or other holders of PR in respect of that child.
A Special Guardian will be entitled to special Guardianship support services from the Local Authority. When carrying out a Special Guardianship assessment the Local Authority should also complete a support plan and assess the Special Guardianship’s entitlement to financial and other assistance.