Child arrangement order

I go to court in November to get a CAO for my sister. I was originally told by social services that it was a special guardianship order and that I passed the assessment but last minute changed to a CAO and the only reason they gave is that it costs social services around £20,000 to do. 

If I have a CAO can I still make decisions on my sisters life such as medical, getting a passport, taking abroad on holiday? Does it still make me her guardian? 

The social worker does not answer these questions after almost 2 years of this situation I just get told ‘I will check that and get back to you’ I did have a solicitor paid for by social services but they have just cancelled this without telling me and I think it’s so I agree to the CAO instead of the originally planned SGO as they don’t want to pay. (Both parents have agreed to the SGO) 


  • sheramber
    sheramber Posts: 19,092 Forumite
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    These people might be able to help

  • squirrelchops2
    squirrelchops2 Posts: 131 Forumite
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    edited 30 August 2022 at 11:53AM
    They are vastly different orders. A SGO is one step below adoption and would give you all decision making powers to the exclusion of birth parents apart from changing her first name, having her adopted and if a final decision pertaining to life/death (eg medical) had to be made.

    If you turn up and say you would prefer the SGO and the assessment has been put before the court then go for that. I suppose SS think that as birth parents are agreeing with CAO there will be less hassle.....the SGO would make decision making for you much easier as with CAO theoretically you should still consult over everything with birth parents. If your relationship is good with them then maybe CAO could work but you must think long term. If you want final decision making over parents go for SGO every time.

    Also with SGO there should be a SGO support plan - the local authority have to provide this and also to declare if they will support the placement financially - this may be what they are trying to wheedle out of.

    Also although SS say you 'passed' the SGO assessment this isnt quite how it works. They make a recommendation as to whether they think you are suitable to be a guardian but ultimately it is the court's decision and they can over rule the LA.

    Stick to your guns and if you want SGO go for that. What is the Children's Guardian view - the person from CAFCASS?
    Been around since 2008 but somehow my profile was deleted!!!
  • TBagpuss
    TBagpuss Posts: 11,203 Forumite
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    If you have a SGO then you may qualify for finacial help from Socia lServices by way of a SG Allowance, and they shouldalso be able to provide support for your sisiter and assistance with contact (if that's relvant) with parents.

    A Chikld Arrangments ORder is what people usually have in private proceedings - e.g. where there is a disputebtween parents folllowing a separation. 

    You would have PArental Responsbility fr as long as the order was in place, whch allows you to sign theings as her 'parent or guardian ' , make day to day deicision etc. You can also take her on holidya although if there sare others, such as your/her paretns, who also have parental responsibility you may need their cosnresnt so it would be sensibek to ask the court to in clude in the order a provision stating that you have the curt's permission to take her out of the uK for periods of (say) up to 3 weeks at a time  without further conset being required.

    With a CAO what you *don't* haveis any veto over parenting decisions made by other peiople with PR. IF  there are concerns about her parents ability to look after her then it could be a problem, as  while they may curently be consenting to you having the SGO there is always a risk they may try to interfere at a later stage, and an SGO puts you in a stronger position. It's also much harder for them to try to overturn it. 

    I would sugges that you push fo the SGO. The fact that it may involve some cost for the Local Authotiry is not a valid reason not to make the order, if it is in your sister's best interests (and it will still be a lot cheaper for them than if they had to place her with non-family foster carers)
    All posts are my personal opinion, not formal advice Always get proper, professional advice (particularly about anything legal!)
  • As far as I know Cafcass aren’t involved. Someone did call them but that all that social service told me. 

    Social service and both parents have been agreeing to SGO for about a year now but last minute social services changed it. 

    I am still going to push for SGO as I know Long term her mum will make things difficult out of spite. 

    I am just unsure on what I can and can’t do with an CAO so don’t want to accept it.
  • T.T.D
    T.T.D Posts: 227 Forumite
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    Do you have legal representation? 

    It’s clear that there is a dispute with SS and yourselves about the hearing. So it may turn into a Directions Hearing, at the hearing you state factual and evidential reasons as to why a SGO is better suited think now and future, why you disagree with CAO why it wouldn’t benefit you, Point to evidence in fact parental behaviours and the that parents agree with the SGO and it’s only SS who have an issue because of costs, costs should not out weigh what in the best interests of the child and the SS finances should limit what a child’s overall need now and in the future are.

    Push for an SGO 

  • I agree with TTD to push for SGO. As I mentioned before your rights as a special guardian are much stronger than that if you had a CAO. With the CAO those with PR could argue with you about everything whereas with SGO, as I mentioned you would have overriding PR to that of the birth parents and hence ultimate decision making except in a very few situations - but these aren't common situations anyway.
    How old is your sister? Is she able to communicate her wishes? 

    The plan here is permanence for your sister - not just legal but physical, emotional, mental etc and it is really important that she knows that the final plan gives her stability for the rest of her childhood. Also another thing to consider is when the Orders would expire. I believe most CAO are 16 unless court is mindful to say 18 whearas SGO is 18.
    You dont want to be in a situation with your sister at 16 where birth parents come back on the scene and start to make demands as know order as expired at a particularly developmentally crucial time for your sister.

    Been around since 2008 but somehow my profile was deleted!!!
  • Hi,

    SS don't want you to have a SGO because the Family Court can add to the Order that SS provide financial support until she becomes an adult and helps financially  towards you raising your sibling.  SS are not acting in your sister's best interests.  It is convenient for them if you take on all the responsibility and they pay nothing.  You cannot trust SS to be honest with you.  Please get legal representation.
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