The Children Act 1989 introduced a greater flexibility into the legal arrangements that can be made for children unable to live with their own families, either on a temporary or permanent basis. Under earlier legislation, the sharp divide between orders made in private and public law proceedings prevented courts in the latter from reaching sensible legal solutions, not involving public care, for children needing a permanent placement outside their birth family (see, for instance, Ball, 1990). On implementation of the Act, the range of orders available to resolve differences about the upbringing of their children between parents following divorce was increased, and some of these orders also became available to courts in care proceedings and to provide statutory remedies instead of resort to the wardship jurisdiction of the High Court. This flexibility was increased further when the new legal concept of special guardianship was enacted as an amendment to the 1989 Act by the Adoption and Children Act 2002.
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