Wardship is the name given to Court proceedings by which a child is made a ward of Court. In effect, the Court becomes the legal guardian of such a child.

In cases where there are disputes concerning children with an international element, it is sometimes advisable to institute wardship proceedings for their protection. Wardship proceedings can be started by a person connected with the child, without seeking leave of the Court. Particularly in cases where the only persons who have parental responsibility for the child are the child’s parents and the child is in conflict with those parents, it may be more appropriate to start wardship proceedings, in which event parental responsibility can be vested in the Court.

In cases where a child has been wrongfully removed from the jurisdiction and an order for return is made, it is often thought that a High Court wardship order may carry greater weight in the country to which the child has been removed than an order made under other proceedings.