Special Guardianship was introduced as a new order by the Adoption and Children Act 2002 from 30th December 2005 in England and Wales. In terms of legal security it fits between adoption and a residence order. Birth parents do not lose their parental responsibility but for all every day events, the legal power of parental responsibility lies with the Special Guardianship Order (SGO) holder. If there was to be a move to another country or a change of name being made, then of course the parents would still need to be consulted and their views would have a right to be heard. As soon as an SGO order is made then the child is automatically discharged from care and need no longer have reviews or visits from social workers. The only context in which social workers are involved after an SGO order are when there is a contact order attached or when the SGO holder asks for support from an SGO support team.
This detachment from the care system and from social workers can often represent an increase in security for children who have SGO orders on them. The only time an SGO holder goes back to court is in the event that circumstances transform positively for the birth parents and they get legal permission to challenge the SGO or in the event that the SGO holder decides to rescind the order. It is also possible that if the SGO terminates or changes contact levels that birth parents might consider asking the court to consider this but if the SGO holder felt these were in the best interests of the child then this would be what the court would be most inclined to respect.
There are a few events that mean that the SGO holder needs written consent of all those with parental responsibility or the leave of the court to do. These would be removing the child from the United Kingdom for a period of over three months, changing the child’s surname, formally changing the child’s religion through any sort of ceremony. In the unfortunate event that a child were to die the SGO holder must also take reasonable steps to inform the parent.