Berkeley Lifford Hall Accountancy ServicesHousing Law WeekIQ Legal TrainingAlphabiolabs

Interim Guidance on Special Guardianship applications

Guidance addresses cases where an extension beyond 26-week time limit is sought

The Family Justice Council, with the approval of the Sir Andrew McFarlane, President of the Family Division, has issued interim guidance to address cases where an extension to the statutory 26-week time limit is sought in order to assess potential special guardians, more fully, within public law proceedings. The guidance has been made in response to some of the issues identified in Re P-S (Children) [2018] EWCA Civ 1407.

The guidance states that as a general proposition, alternative potential carers should be identified at an early stage and, where possible pre-proceedings, by adherence to good practice. In the event that a full assessment is undertaken it will usually require a 3-month timescale. In the absence of any exceptional features, the process and criteria identified in Timetabling and timescales for full family and friends assessments and the Family Rights Group Assessment Template should be standard to any special guardianship assessment.

However, the guidance recognises that possible carers may be identified late in the proceedings or, for other reasons, further time is required to assess the relationship between the child/ren and the carer(s) fully. In such cases, if the application has a sound basis, an extension beyond 26 weeks should be permitted if it is, "necessary to enable the court to resolve the proceedings justly" [section 32(5) Children Act 1989] and as such will be readily justified as required by section 32(7) of the Act. The guidance sets out the procedural and practical issues that the parties and the court should consider.

For the guidance, please click here.