A relative has a special guardianship order for my child, how do I get my child back?

Dated:

A special guardianship order places your child with another person who is not their parent. This person then has to care for your child's needs and wellbeing. It also gives parental responsibility to the guardian without taking away your parental responsibility. This is one of the ways that the relationship between the parents and the child can be maintained.

Family Law child Custody

Why has a relative been given a special guardianship order?


There are a number of reasons why a relative could have special guardianship over your child. For example, they may want to take care of your child on a temporary basis, rather than something as permanent as adoption.

Before anyone can apply for a special guardianship order for your child, they will need to give the Local Authority (LA) 3 months’ notice. The LA will make a report with information about the child and what is within their best interests. This report must be completed and sent to the court for the special guardianship order to be made.

If your child was considered old enough at the time, their wishes will be taken into consideration and they will be asked if they would want your relative as a special guardian. Although there is no set age as to who is “old enough” the court will usually say a child is old enough to make this decision if they understand the idea of special guardianship.

Varying and Discharging the Special Guardianship


A special guardianship usually lasts until your child is 18. However, if circumstances change significantly the court can vary or even discharge the order. Varying an order means changing the terms of the order and discharging means to get rid of the order completely and returning the child back to their parent(s).

You can also apply to the court to vary or discharge the order if:
  • You have a residence order in your favour for the child issued before the special guardianship was ordered. A residence order will give the person holding it parental responsibility over the child. It states where the child will live and usually ends at the age of 16 unless specified
  • You are the special guardian

To vary or dismiss the special guardianship you need to get authorisation from the court and also demonstrate what changes have happened since the special guardianship order was made.

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