Legal Aid funding available for Special Guardianship Order Applications

Posted on: May 10th, 2023

Following a £6m additional investment by the government, extended family members and friends will be able to access legal aid in relation to Special Guardianship Orders.

What are Special Guardianship Orders?

A Special Guardianship Order is a legal order that appoints one or more individuals, usually relatives or friends, to be a child’s guardian until the child turns 18 when they cannot live with their birth parents. They are normally appointed during public law proceedings involving the Local Authority.

What’s changed?

Previously, legal aid was only available in Special Guardianship cases where the Local Authority has made an application to remove a child from their birth parents.

The Ministry of Justice has confirmed this enhancement for funding to cover more people applying for Special Guardianship Orders such as relatives, extended family and friends without the need for Local Authority involvement with this coming into effect from 01.05.2023.

Justice Minister Lord Bellamy expresses the importance of this extension:

‘Providing a stable, loving home for a vulnerable child in need is an utterly selfless act and it is right we provide families with the vital support they need – particularly in the most complex and emotive of cases.’

Applicants such as grandparents can now apply to the Court privately if they believe a child is in need of a loving home placed with themselves or extended family until they reach 18.

The application/proceedings process

Family members who are positively assessed by the Local Authority can now get funding to be provided advice around nature of orders and an application to seek party status.

Before applying, family members must notify their local authority in writing that they are planning on making an application. If there is existing court proceedings or orders in place, anyone named within those need to be made aware also.

Our team of specialist advisors can assist you with any application for this funding, provide advice and assistance in making the required application and then guide you through the court process, step by step.

With a growing need throughout the country and the Northeast for kinship carers and extended family members, this response to funding is a tremendous step forward to make sure the most vulnerable people are properly supported in court proceedings. Decision making around children can be some of the most emotive and challenging times in your life, our team understand this and have the knowledge and experience to guide you and your family.

Contact our family team today on or 01642 777680, we can advise whether or not these changes are applicable in your circumstances, if you are eligible for funding and if not, what alternative options are available for you and your family. This funding can apply for cases that are currently in court and you may have previously been assessed for funding that is now available. You are entitled to a reassessment which our team can offer you specific to your circumstances.

Prepared by Paralegal, Kirsty Ward

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If you require any of our legal services or you're not sure where to get started, please contact us at our Redcar High Street office and our solicitors will guide you every step of the way.

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