Ending an SGO

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Elephants19
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Joined: Fri Jul 03, 2020 3:16 pm

Ending an SGO

Post by Elephants19 » Mon Jul 06, 2020 3:05 pm

My son was accommodated with his paternal aunt and uncle under an SGO around 4 years ago. At the time I verbally agreed it was best for him as I was misusing substances which I knew were affecting my ability to care for him properly. This was obviously a very hard decision to make but, as through all of this, I have only ever wanted what was best for my child. He was 14 months old. On the day the SGO came in to affect I was not at the court - his father signed the paperwork but I didn't. Is this allowed? As we had 50/50 parental responsibility but he was able to sign my son over by himself?

I am now in a much better place. I am clean of drugs (over a year!), have a great support network, have my own privately rented accommodation in a positive area of the city and have turned things around. I have not had contact with my son since he was taken to his aunt and uncles. However, I do know that the aunt allows my son to call her 'Mum', is this even allowed as it is surely causing some confusion that she is 'Mum' but he insists on being called 'Uncle X'? They put up many barriers as to why I couldn't see him in the beginning even though the court assigned me 4 visits per year (I have not had any of these) and they have held my son back from seeing other family members (My parents, my sister and her children). As I am in a much better place now I have asked the aunt for gradual contact to rebuild my relationship with my son. She has point blank refused. I have been to mediation but the aunt and uncle will not attend. I have no alternative other than to go to court.

I guess I am asking how often these cases go in the birth parents favour? What do I need to prove to the court that I have made significant changes? Can the aunt and uncle be penalised as they have not allowed me the 4 visits a year I was awarded from the court. The aunt and uncle have allowed the child's father to have contact - despite the fact he is still using substances, is homeless and subjected me and his child to long term domestic abuse.

I guess you may be wondering why I have not tried to see my son sooner - over the 4 years I have made several attempts but have taken the knock backs badly. From then on I decided to concentrate on getting myself better (which is where I am now). Also I did not want to be the parent to be in and out of my son's life, causing upset and disruption for him. This is also something the aunt and uncle are holding against me - that I haven't bothered before so why should I bother now. The truth is I am now stronger in myself and ready to fight for my son, I will no longer allow them to walk all over me.

Any advice or information on the questions I have asked would be amazing.
Many thanks x

Edited by Suzie to maintain confidentiality

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Suzie, FRG Adviser
Posts: 662
Joined: Thu Jul 28, 2011 11:25 am

Re: Ending an SGO

Post by Suzie, FRG Adviser » Wed Jul 15, 2020 5:15 pm

Dear Elephants19

Thank you for posting although, as a parent, it should be on the parents’ discussion board.

In your post you say that you wish to have your son back in your care. A special guardianship order (SGO) was made for him to live with paternal aunt and uncle about four years ago.

It is not clear from your post if the SGO was made by the court in care proceedings brought by the local authority or the aunt and uncle applied for the order themselves. In either case, there would have been an assessment done to ensure that they were suitable to care for your son. You mention that his father signed for the order to be made. This is not actually required as it is the court that makes the decision whether order should be made or not.

Your have had particular difficulties yourself with misuse of drugs and, as such, felt it would not be in your son’s interest to have contact with him until you had got yourself better. Now that you are better you are considering whether you should apply to discharge the SGO. There are a number of considerations you will need to take into account; your son is settled with the special guardians, he has had no contact with you so I assume he may not know you (if he was very young at the time of the order), how disruptive would it be for him to move from his placement.
It may be at this stage more appropriate to try and re-establish contact with your son. You ask if the special guardians would be penalised that you did not have contact over the 4 years, from what you say in your post, they did not prevent contact it was your choice not to take up contact. His father has continued to have contact which may be supervised because of the issues you say he continues to have with drugs.

Where a person wishes to discharge a special guardianship order, it would be necessary to show that there have been significant changes in respect of the issues that led to a child being removed from that person’s care. This change would not in itself mean that the court would discharge the order as the child’s welfare would be the court’s main concern and it would have to consider all the evidence and reach a decision on the basis of what is best for the child. It is unlikely that the court would remove a child for a home he has always known to live with someone with whom they have had no contact and no relationship.

I do think it might be more appropriate for you to try and arrange contact with the special guardians. Any contact would need to be at your son’s pace and taken slowly as it will be a lot for him to cope with not having seen you for such a long time.

You may find it helpful to read our advice sheet Special Guardianship: what does it mean for birth parents? for more information.

If your son was a looked after child before the SGO was made you could ask the local authority to assist you in contacting the special guardians about contact.

I hope this helps.

Best wishes

Suzie

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