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(Family Division; Hedley J; 27 July 2006)
In the case of a grandchild living with the maternal grandparents, together with other members of the wider family, a special guardianship order was more appropriate than an adoption order, even though an adoption order would have reduced the grandparents' anxiety about possible interference from the parents. Special guardianship had been introduced very much to deal with the concept of long-term familial placements that were not required to be secured by care orders. In this case adoption would significantly skew normal family relationships and structures, whereas special guardianship would permit the familial carers to have the practical authority and standing of parents, while leaving intact real and readily comprehensible relationships within the family. In order to allay the rational anxiety about parental interference, the court made: a prohibited steps order preventing the parents from having any direct contact with the child without a court order; a s 91(14) of the Children Act 1989 order without limit of time, preventing the parents from making contact applications without first obtaining permission from the court; and a specific issues order, authorising a change of surname.
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