Abigail Bond, Barrister, St Johns Chambers, Bristol. The placement of children with other members of their family, such as grandparents or aunts and uncles, can deliver with it complications and considerations which would not apply in cases where they are placed with someone unrelated. Adoption of a child by its grandparents, for example, has the effect of making the child a sibling of one of its birth parents, with the additional possibility of the child's identity being concealed or misrepresented, and the risk of the child becoming confused.
Special guardianship orders, created by the Adoption and Children Act 2002 and effective as of 30 December 2005, looked like a way forward in these sorts of family placement cases. However, in the recent cases of Re S (Special Guardianship Order)  EWCA Civ 54,  FLR (forthcoming); Re AJ (Special Guardianship Order)  EWCA Civ 55,  FLR (forthcoming); Re M-J (Special Guardianship Order)  EWCA Civ 56,  FLR (forthcoming) the Court of Appeal made it clear that a special guardianship order in these circumstances was not automatically the right way forward. Each case falls to be decided on the application of the statutory provisions to the best interests of the particular child before it.
This article considers the issues in question in these three cases particularly as they concern family relationships and the effect on the child concerned. It then goes on to consider the statutory regime which applies to these cases and considers the legal and practical differences between special guardianship and adoption orders, and considers the ramifications for future cases. For the full article see April  Fam Law.