Special guardianship

Special Guardianship Orders

A Special Guardianship Order is made by the family court and places a child or young person with someone other than their parents on a long term basis.

Your responsibilities

If you become a special guardian for a child, you will:

  • have parental responsibility until they're 18 years old (unless the court revokes the order)
  • make day to day decisions for them (i.e. schooling and medical treatment)

However, you will have to consult the child's birth parents for important decisions such as:

  • changing the child's surname
  • putting the child up for adoption
  • taking the child abroad for over 3 months
  • any surgery that may not be for improving health (such as cosmetic surgery, sterilisation or circumcision)

How it differs from adoption

If you choose to adopt you will have parental responsibility for the child for life, whereas in a special guardianship, this responsibility only lasts until the child turns 18 years old.

Secondly, adoption takes full parental responsibility away from the child's birth parents. Special guardians still have to consult birth parents on a number of important matters.

Find out more on the Child Law Advice website.

Contact us

Let us know if you have any questions about special guardianships.

Contact the special guardianship team on: