Adopting a child or becoming their legal guardian can seem complicated and confusing, but with the right legal advice and support, navigating these processes can be made much simpler.
Our adoption and special guardianship solicitors can provide confident, expert legal guidance no matter your circumstances. Whether you are a couple or an individual looking to start a family through adoption, a step-parent looking to legally formalise your relationship with your partner’s children, or a family member looking to take care of a relative’s children, we can help.
We will work with you carefully and sensitively to resolve all of the complex issues that can be involved in adoption and special guardianship applications. Our family lawyers will talk you through the entire process in plain English, giving you complete peace of mind that you are making the right decisions and every detail is taken care of.
Our adoption & special guardianship services
We work with couples and individuals all over England and Wales, helping to make the process of adoption or becoming a Special Guardian as simple and stress-free as possible.
Anyone aged 21 or over can theoretically adopt a child in the UK, whether individually or as part of a couple.
There are two stages to the process of becoming an ‘approved adopter’. You will normally need to complete both stages before you can start looking for the right child or children for you to adopt.
Stage 1 involves registering your interest in becoming an adopter, then attending an adopter preparation group to learn about adoption and the needs of adopted children. You will then need to undergo training as well as background and reference checks.
Stage 2 involves meeting with a social worker for a number of sessions where they will assess your suitability and readiness to adopt. The social worker will produce a Prospective Adopters Report (PAR) for the local Adoption Panel, who will make the final decision over whether you will be approved to be an adopter.
Adopting as a step-parent
If adopting as a step-parent, you do not need to go through the process of becoming an approved adopter. Instead, you will normally need to seek the permission of everyone with parental responsibility to be able to adopt your step-children. If you cannot secure this permission, you may need to go to court for a parental responsibility order.
Becoming a ‘special guardian’ means that you will have a parental responsibility for a child, giving you the right to make decisions about their upbringing, including where they live and where they go to school.
This approach is often used where a child’s parents are unable, or deemed unfit, to care for their child, and a family member, such as grandparent, aunt or uncle wishes to take the child into their care.
Special guardianship allows the guardian control over the child’s day-to-day life, while still preserving a link between the child and their birth parents. This is because, unlike with adoption, special guardianship does not remove parental responsibility from the birth parents.
However, the guardian would only need to consult the parents about decisions for the child under exceptional circumstances e.g. to change the child’s surname or place them for adoption.
To become a special guardian, you need to apply for a Special Guardianship Order (SGO) from a court. We can support you through the process of applying for an SGO, helping you to quickly establish your legal right to care for a child while preserving a positive relationship with the child’s birth parents wherever possible.
Why choose Henriques Griffiths’ adoption & special guardianship lawyers?
Our family lawyers have years of experience supporting families with all of the legal issues related to adoption and Special Guardianship. We can help to make the legal processes involved as straightforward and stress-free as possible, allowing you to focus on supporting your new family.
Henriques Griffiths’ family law teams include members of the Law Society’s Family Law and Children Law panels while as a firm we are Lexcel accredited by the Law Society for our practice management and client care. We are regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) providing assurance that we continually meet the highest legal and professional standards.
Get in touch with our special guardianship & adoption solicitors
For expert legal help with anything to do with adoption or special guardianship, please call us on 0117 909 4000 or use the links below to make an enquiry or request a call back.