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28 September 2015 0 Comments
Posted in Opinion

ALC publishes response to Special Guardianship Orders consultation

Posted by , Partner

The Association of Lawyers for Children (ALC) recently published its response to a consultation on Special Guardianship Orders (SGOs), which was overseen by the Department for Education (DfE).

A number of concerns have been outlined by the legal body, which aims to ensure that the rights and best interests of children are considered as part of the UK’s legal system.

These issues include representation, as the child will not normally have representation as part of an SGO, which they would benefit from in care proceedings, and the fact that legal aid is not available to defendants in private law actions, which could put parents at an unfair disadvantage due to not being able to afford representation.

The ALC has made it clear that it believes special guardianship is being used for purposes other than those it was originally meant for, highlighting the fact that many SGOs are made at the end of care proceedings, in the place of a care order or a care and placement order.

One of the other major concerns the legal body has expressed relates to section 7 welfare reports, which the court can use as independent advice to assess whether an order is suitable for a child.

However, reports of this kind are often commissioned by the same local authority rather than from Cafcass, the body which represents children in family court cases.

The ALC has made it clear that any report prepared by an agency that is supporting, and potentially also funding, a care application, is not independent and should therefore not be included in any decision-making process in court.

At Royds, our experienced family law department are able to advise on all aspects of the divorce process. We will work closely with clients to achieve the best possible outcome. For more information, please visit or contact Patrick Hart.

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