Special Guardianship Order & Testamentary Guardianship
Sometimes a family crisis can occur and it is necessary for children to be looked after by someone other than their parent(s), often a grandparent, family member or close friend.
This could be for a short period of time but in some situations a more permanent solution is needed. At this point, a Special Guardianship order or Testamentary Guardianship may be considered.
Special Guardianship Order
A special guardianship order is an order appointing one or more individuals to be a child’s special guardian until they become 18 years old. The order is used for children who cannot live with their birth parents. It is a more secure order than a residence order because a parent cannot apply to discharge it unless they have the permission of the court to do so, however it is less secure than an adoption order because it does not end the legal relationship between the child and his/her birth parents.
The special guardian shares parental responsibility for the child with the parent but they can also make key decisions about the child without having to refer to the parents.
Special Guardianship Orders can be a good option for children who can’t live with their parents, as it gives them a stable home and links to their birth family, but every case is distinctive with many different factors and circumstances to consider.
A Testamentary Guardianship is where a guardian is appointed for a child (under the age of 18) by the parent(s) in the event of their death. This provides the parent(s) with the peace of mind that people they know and trust will take care of their children after their death and the appointment of guardians won’t be left up to the courts.
The guardian could be a close relative such as a grandparent or sibling and are normally someone that already has a relationship with the child. Testamentary Guardians are often named by parent(s) in their Wills, which will have to be legally valid and witnessed, or by the completion of an Appointment of Standby or Testamentary Guardian form. If the parent(s) die, the guardian will assume the legal responsibilities of a parent and are tasked with looking after the best interests of a child.
The legal processes for both Special Guardianship Orders and Testamentary Guardianships can be emotional and complicated and we can offer you the support, understanding and guidance that you require.
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