Legal Update: Legal Q&A - Wardship

Coram Children's Legal Centre
Monday, August 3, 2015

Q. What is wardship and when is it used?

A. Wardship allows the High Court to be vested with the custody of a child for the child's protection. Day-to-day care remains with an individual or the local authority, but the court's consent is required for any important step in the child's life. Wardship allows the court to obtain parental responsibility for a child – this will be shared with those who already hold parental responsibility, but no important step can be taken without the court's consent. For example, the court's consent will be needed for the following issues: significant medical or psychiatric examination or treatment; interview by an independent reporter or the police; marriage of the child; change in the child's education, residence or whereabouts; travelling outside the UK; moving foster placements; adoption proceedings; and changing the child's name.

Wardship might be considered necessary to protect a child from a child marriage; protect abducted children; for emergency medical treatment; to restrain publicity; to prevent undesirable association; or where the threshold for a care order has not been met. It should not be used unless it is clear that the issue concerning the child cannot be resolved under the Children Act 1989. Any person with a genuine interest in the child can apply for wardship.

Do you have any questions?

The Child Law Advice Service provides legal advice and information on areas of child, family and education law. Visit www.childrenslegalcentre.com and follow the link to the Child Law Advice Service to view a range of legal factsheets and guides. For clarifying questions, call the helpline number at the end of each factsheet.

The helpline is available Monday to Friday 8am to 6pm

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