Specific Issue Orders
What is a Specific Issue Order?
If you and the child’s other parent have decided on some aspects of how your child will be brought up but just cannot seem to agree on a particular point, a Specific Issue Order will allow a court to make the decision for you.
The Specific Issue Order can be used to resolve a number of arguments, always ensuring that the final decision is made with the child’s best interests at heart.
It may sometimes be appropriate to make a Specific Issue Order and a Prohibited Steps Order. A Specific Issue Order may be made for the return of a child and a Prohibited Steps Order made to require that the child, once returned, is not to be removed again.
Who Can Apply for a Specific Issue Order?
The child’s parents, the step-parents with parental responsibility, guardians, special guardians and anyone who is named in a Child Arrangements Order as a person with whom the child is to live. These people may apply to the court for a Specific Issue Order without requiring the court’s permission to do so. Anyone else though, including the child him/herself, will need the court’s permission to make an application.
Why are Specific Issue Orders Usually Made?
Specific Issue Orders have usually been made to resolve disputes relating to:
- medical treatment, including the question of immunisation;
- education, including possible attendance at a religious school;
- permission to take a child out of the jurisdiction for a holiday if there is no Child Arrangements Order in place stating with whom the child is to live;
- the return of a child (in abduction cases);
- changing a child’s name; and,
- a child’s religious upbringing.
The Court’s Role in Applying for a Specific Issue Order
If it is not possible to reach an amicable agreement about your child’s welfare, you can apply to the court for an Order.
It is now a requirement that before you make an application for a Specific Issues Order you must attend a family Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting (MIAM). You can attend this meeting together or separately. You may not need to attend a MIAM if an application must be made urgently, for example, if there are issues of domestic violence.
An application is then made to court, which sets out the details of all the adults and children in the case. If your application is urgent it may mean you make the application without telling the other parent what you are doing. When the court receives the application, it will set a time and place for a first court appointment.
How Does The Court Make Their Decision?
The Children Act 1989 provides a list of considerations for the Judge:
- the wishes and feelings of the child concerned;
- the child’s physical, emotional and educational needs;
- the likely effect on the child if circumstances changed as a result of the court’s decision;
- the child’s age, sex and background;
- any harm the child has suffered or may be at risk of suffering;
- the capability of the child’s parents (or other relevant people) in meeting the child’s needs, and
- the powers available to the court.
Always remember that the welfare of the child is always the court’s main concern.
In certain circumstances you may qualify for legal aid – please see our page on Legal Aid.
Ashmans Solicitors has an expert Family Law Team who can advise you about making an application for a Specific Issues Order or if an application for a Specific Issues Order has been made against you.