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Can I get Legal Aid to Contest a Special Guardianship Order?
- AuthorEmily Jones
What is a Special Guardianship Order?
A Special Guardianship Order (SGO) is a long lasting, Private Law Order, made by the Family Court. The Order appoints one or more individuals to become the child’s ‘Special Guardian.’ This gives them Parental Responsibility for the child until they reach 18 years old. Special Guardians should provide the child with a legally secure long-term placement. It is difficult to discharge an SGO as they are intended to be a long term.
An SGO is typically made when a parent cannot safely care for their child. Parents do not lose Parental Responsibility when an SGO is granted to alternative carers, however the Special Guardians have enhanced Parental Responsibility. This means that if a parent and Special Guardian cannot agree on a matter relating to the child, for example where they should live or go to school, the Special Guardians will be able to override the parent and make the final decision, in the child’s best interests.
Further information regarding SGO’s can be found in the below Johnson Astills article:
What does it mean to contest an SGO?
Anybody with existing Parental Responsibility for the child, can respond to an SGO application. Many parents wish to contest SGO applications, as they do not want another person to have elevated Parental Responsibility over their child and they do not want them to be making day-to-day decisions about their child’s upbringing and welfare.
Parents can try to oppose an SGO application by evidencing that there has been a significant change to their circumstances, and that they should be re-considered to care for their child.
Johnson Astills can help parents wishing to contest an SGO application. We can provide advice regarding the merit of your case and offer representation at Court.
Can I get Legal Aid?
Legal Aid helps individuals to pay for legal advice, mediation, or representation in Court. In 2023, there were changes made to the scope of Family Legal Aid. These changes mean that those with Parental Responsibility responding to an SGO application will be eligible for Legal Aid if they satisfy the financial eligibility requirements. The same update applies to prospective guardians wishing to make an application.
The Legal Aid Agency will assess a client’s income and capital as a part of the financial eligibility test. There is a disposable income limit of £733 per month and a disposable capital limit of £8000.
Even if you do not think that you would qualify for Legal Aid, other methods of funding are available, and Johnson Astills will offer support to both Legally Aided and privately funded clients.
Please get in touch with Johnson Astills today and we would be more than happy to discuss your requirements further.