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What is a children's guardian? Who they are and what they do

View profile for Benjamin Armstrong
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Family safety week: 1st-7th April 2019

Children’s guardians are appointed by the court to represent children within care proceedings (local authorities can start ‘care proceedings’ if they’re very worried about a child and can apply for a ‘care order’ which would grant the local authority parental responsibility for a child and can determine where a child lives).

Children’s guardians can also be appointed within private law proceedings where there are disputes between adults about the arrangements for children.  They will only be appointed in cases involving an issue of significant difficulty such as where the child has a standpoint or interest which is inconsistent with or incapable of being represented by any of the adult parties or where there is an intractable dispute over residence or contact.

They are independent of social services and all other parties involved within proceedings and their role is to represent the interests of the children involved within the ongoing court proceedings. As such, their primary concern is always to act and make recommendations that are in the child’s best interests. As they are independent from social services, a children’s guardian will instruct their own solicitor and have their own legal representation within court proceedings.

As above, the principle role of a children’s guardian is to represent the interests of the children within proceedings. The children’s guardian, often through written report or through their solicitor will make recommendations to the court within proceedings as to what work they believe needs to be completed before any final decision can be made by the court. In order to make such recommendations, the guardian will meet with the children and any members of the family such as the parents, siblings, school and any other person that the guardian feels it is necessary to speak to in order to conduct a full and thorough investigation. The guardian may also access any medical records and any expert reports that have been completed within proceedings. The guardian can also recommend that professional assessments, for example, with a psychologist or psychiatrist, are undertaken in relation to either the children or parents.

Throughout the course of proceedings, the guardian will produce written reports detailing the findings of their investigations, most notably shortly before the final hearing. This report will often make recommendations as to what decisions the court should make in respect of the children, and what orders, if any, are required to ensure the children are safeguarded and their best interests are met.

If you would like further information on our services or wish to speak to one of our family law specialists, please don’t hesitate to get in touch on 0161 696 6193.