Legal Eagle: Returning a child to your care after they are removed under an order

A mother and her son. Picture: Brian Lawless/PA Wire
A mother and her son. Picture: Brian Lawless/PA Wire

My child was removed from my care five years ago. Social Services got involved as I had drinking problems. I was in a very abusive relationship and my child had suffered.

My child is currently living with my mother under a Special Guardianship Order. Can my child return to my care and do I still have parental responsibility for him?
I am not drinking anymore and ended that relationship in 2014. I am working part-time and I rent a two-bedroom flat where the second bedroom is for my son.
I see my son every day and I have great relationship with my mother.

I am sorry to hear about your difficult experiences and the situation that you are currently in.

From Children’s Services point of view, your mother holds a Special Guardianship Order for your child. Therefore there is no ongoing role for Children’s Services and its case is closed.

You still have parental responsibility for your child, but this is shared with your mother.

Your mother has the right to exercise her parental responsibility “to the exclusion of all others” and can, therefore, overrule you if there is a disagreement between you.

A Special Guardianship Order is permanent until your son is 18-years-old.

However, it is possible to apply to the court to discharge the order, but this will only be considered if there has been a “significant change in circumstances” since the order was made.

You are in a much better place in your life now, the court would need to consider if this change has been maintained for long enough for the order to be revoked.

You and your mother should be mindful that although Children’s Services are not currently involved, they will re-open the case if they feel that your son is being placed at risk of harm.

I would advise that you continue to work closely with your mother, as you are parenting your son together. You might want to talk to your mum about increasing the contact you have with your son and to extend this to include overnight stays etc.

If there is a point where you and your mother are in agreement that it is right for your son to return to your care, you need to be able to demonstrate your commitment to your son and your ability to safeguard and protect him.

Ben Hoare Bell LLP has specialist family solicitors who can advise you on issues such as this. To speak to a solicitor please phone 0191 565 3112 or email advice@benhoarebell.co.uk. Visit www.benhoarebell.co.uk for more.