Special Guardianship

What is Special Guardianship?

Special Guardianship is an arrangement where you live permanently with someone other than your birth parents. If this happens an order will be made by the court called a Special Guardianship Order (SGO).

The person who gets the SGO will be called your Special Guardian and will have care of you until you are 18. Special Guardianship is an option if you are unable to live with your birth parents and you need a long-term home.

Will having a Special Guardian affect my relationship with my Birth Parents?

Unlike adoption, your parents will continue to have legal responsibility for you, but your Special Guardian will be in charge of looking after you and they will have higher parental responsibility. For more information, see Parental responsibility.

The Special Guardian must allow you to have a reasonable amount of contact with your parents unless doing so may cause you harm. If you are unhappy with the level of contact you are having with your parents you should speak to your Special Guardian.

If your Special Guardian does not agree then either you or your parents can apply to court for an order for contact. If you are thinking about this, contact us for information using our contact form here.

Who will the Special Guardian be?

More often than not, a Special Guardian will be a relative or a person you have a close relationship to such as a grandparent, aunt or uncle.

What if I wish to return home but I’m under a Special Guardianship Order?

Special Guardianship is an order given by the court and it is legally binding. Generally, you will be living under a SGO because your parents are unable to provide the right level of care to you.

If you want to return to your parents and this is in your best interests, either you or your parents can ask the court to remove the SGO. If you are thinking about this we recommend that you get legal advice first. You can contact us using our contact form here.

Can I get support under Special Guardianship?

If you have been looked after by Children’s Services before a Special Guardianship Order was made you may be able to get support. To get support you must:

  • Be between the ages of 16 and 21
  • Currently be under a Special Guardianship Order (if you are under 18) or previously have been under a Special Guardianship Order (if you are over 18)
  • Have been looked after by Children’s Services immediately before a Special Guardianship Order was made.

If this applies to you, you should ask Children’s Services to assess you for support.

Support could include:

  • advice
  • befriending – having an independent visitor to speak to
  • help with housing
  • help with money.


Find out how you can access support with this issue by contacting the Coram Voice free Advocacy Helpline for Children and Young People on 0808 800 5792 or visit www.coramvoice.org.uk/alwaysheard