What is Special Guardianship?

What is Special Guardianship?

What is Special Guardianship? It is a legal order that makes one or more people as special guardians for a child. Special Guardianship order lasts until the child is 18 years old.

The special guardian obtains parental responsibility for the child and will be able to make the day to day decisions.  For example, which school they will go to, without having to gain permission from anyone else.

What Special Guardians Can’t Do?

  •  They cannot change a child’s name
  • They cannot take a child out of the UK for more than 3 months at any one time.
  • They cannot give consent for the child to be adopted.

If they want to do any of the above, they will need the permission of the court or the agreement of those who still parental responsibility.


Who can apply to become a Special Guardian? 

  • A person who has a Child Arrangements Order.
  • A person who the child has lived with for three out of the last five years.
  • A person who has the agreement of the Local Authority
  • A person who has the agreement of all the people with parental responsibility for the child.
  • A Local Authority foster carer or relative that the child has been living with for at least one year before the application is made.
  • Anyone who has the courts permission.

If a family member is applying for a Special Guardianship Order because they have a child in their care where there are no care proceedings in place, but they need to obtain parental responsibility for a child. They will need to make an application through the courts and notify the local authority in writing in order to make an application.

They will need to be 18 years old in order to apply for a Special Guardianship Order.

Three months before they make the application, they must tell the Local Authority in writing that they plan to apply to the court for a Special Guardianship Order.

The Local Authority has to write a report for the court to help it to decide what order to make.

The Court cannot make an order without the Special Guardianship report. 

You can find all the forms and information needed to make an application at hmctscourtfinder.justice.gov.uk

You need to Select – Area of Law I am interested in 

then Select – none of the above

Enter your postcode to find your closest court and the issues they deal with.

To find the relevant forms go to the gov.uk website at


You can also find a comprehensive booklet about Special Guardianship and the process at Family Rights Group


Special Guardianship Info –  Giving SGO a Voice
Special Guardianship Info –  Giving SGO a Voice