Special guardianship orders
Special guardianship orders were introduced by the Adoption and Children Act 2002, and passed into law 2005. They came into force in 2006. Special guardianship is more permanent, and offers greater security than long term fostering and child arrangement orders. It does not have the same legal severance from the birth parents as adoption.
A special guardianship order is a court order appointing a person or persons to be a child’s special guardian. A special guardianship means they can exercise parental responsibility to the exclusion of any other person with parental responsibility apart from another special guardian. This applies in virtually all decisions affecting the child.
A special guardianship order limits the rights of birth parents to intervene or challenge the order without permission from the court. Unlike adoption, the special guardianship order retains the basic legal link with the parents. They remain legally the child’s parents, but their ability to exercise their parental responsibility is limited.
A new legal order was considered necessary to meet the needs of a significant number of children who could not be brought up by their parents: these included older children who had become separated from their birth families: children already settled with a relative or foster carer: children from minority ethnic groups which have cultural difficulties with adoption: and unaccompanied asylum seeking children who may need a secure legal basis without breaking the strong attachment they may have with their family abroad.Welsh Government, Special Guardianship Code of Practice July 2018