About the Family Law Week blog

The Family Law Week Blog is a companion site to Family Law Week. It complements the news, cases and articles published on Family Law Week with additional comment and coverage of the wider aspects of family law.

The Blog is edited by Jacqui Gilliatt, of 4 Brick Court and Lucy Reed, of St Johns Chambers.

Friday, 28 August 2009

Equal opportunities for family carers

Some important rule changes have been made to allow relative carers the same entitlement as local authority foster carers to apply for residence or special guardianship by The Children and Young Persons Act 2008 (CYPA 2008) (amending the Children Act 1989 (the 1989 Act)).

At present, local authority foster carers, who have had the child living with them for one year immediately preceding the application, are entitled to apply for a residence order without the leave of the court. Relative carers are only able to do so with the leave of the court, unless:

They are local authority foster carers who have had the child living with them for one year immediately preceding the application (who are subject to child protection checks)

  • Have had the child living with them for three out of the last five years; or
  • Have the consent of every one with parental responsibility for the child
Sections 36 to 38 of the CYPA 2008, which comes into force on 1st September, adjusts the 1989 Act:

  • Entitling all relative carers to apply for a residence order and special guardianship orders under the 1989 Act if the child has lived with him/her for a period of at least one year immediately preceding the application; and
  • Raising the age at which a residence order automatically ends from 16 to 18 years of age.
  • Raising the age limit, at which a residence order automatically ends, from 16 to 18 years, will provide greater stability for the child. The changes will also facilitate continued financial support for carers’ entitlement, which ceases at the end of the residence order (normally 16 years old at present).
Prior to the implementation of the CYPA 2008, a residence order ceases to have effect when the child reaches 16 unless the court is satisfied the circumstances are exceptional.

The CYPA 2008 changes this so that a residence order will last until the child reaches 18 unless the court directs otherwise.

The following court forms and leaflets have been amended to reflect these changes:

  • C13A – Supplement for an application for SGO
  • CB1 – Making an application – Children and family courts
  • CB4 – Special Guardianship – a guide for court users

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