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What is a Special Guardianship Order?

A Special Guardianship order is an order appointing one or more people over the age of 18 years to be a child’s special guardian. The order gives the special guardian parental responsibility for the child, which that person may exercise to the exclusion of any other person with parental responsibility, except for another special guardian. The order is a private law order, which is made where a child cannot return to a parent, but does not need to be kept in care or be adopted.

A Special Guardianship Order may be appropriate where:

It can be challenged with the court’s permission. The order does not exclude the natural parents from the child’s life, but enables the special guardian to control their involvement and to provide care, permanence and stability for the child.

Who can make an application for a Special Guardianship Order?

Those with automatic rights to make an application:

All other applicants need leave of the court to make an application.

Who needs to know you are making an application?

Three months’ notice of the application must be given to everyone who has parental responsibility for the child, the local authority, anyone with a residence order and the child him/herself (via their children’s guardian) if they are subject to care proceedings or via the local authority if the child is subject to a care order.

Effect of a Special Guardianship order

A Special Guardianship Order gives the special guardian: –

Special Guardianship: checklist of steps and timetable to final hearing

The applicant must seek leave from the court before making an application. There are different types of application forms if there are any existing proceedings. Supplemental forms need to be also submitted when domestic abuse is involved.
Applications can be made during care proceedings however we will focus only on private law proceedings below.

In private law proceedings

CAFCASS must carry out a risk assessment they has cause to suspect that the child concerned is at risk of harm and to provide that assessment to the court.

Directions the court usually makes

The local authority will be tasked with preparing a special guardianship report. Such report usually includes:

  1. information about the child’s background and needs;
  2. information about the child’s parents;
  3. information about the potential special guardian(s) and their capacity to meet the child’s needs, including managing contact with parents
  4. special guardianship support plan – detailing what support is available in raising the child, including financial support, help with legal costs and costs of any future proceedings eg over contact. Such report is usually filed no later than 3 months of notice.


  1. Parties to file statements
  2. Directions for a children’s guardian report
  3. Any other assessments such as psychological or parents or children

Issues for final hearing

The court will consider:

How much does it cost?

The cost of such proceedings will vary from case to case and will depend upon our level of involvement.

As a guide our lawyers bill on an hourly basis. Applying for special guardianship as you may appreciate involves a multiplicity of professionals and more often than not parents who may oppose the application. As such, matters can be complex and be fought out over several months.

We would estimate that the costs of such proceedings if we were involved from beginning to end would cost in the region of £5,000 – £7,000 + VAT. This could be more or less subject to the facts of the case and our involvement.

For more information about how we can assist you please email or call 01925 634681

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