Specific Issue Orders

Even if you and your ex-partner are able to agree on many of the arrangements for your children, there are always one or two things that a couple will struggle to reach an agreement on.

Specific Issue Orders can be used to resolve specific disputes about a child’s upbringing, such as questions about what school they should go to or medical issues such as whether the child should be immunised or not.

When you might need a Specific Issue Order

Perhaps you and your child’s other parent each have different ideas of what actions should be taken in your child’s best interests but don’t want the arguing to impact the child themselves.

In this case, a specific issue order would take the matter into the courts hands; allowing them to make the final, unbiased decision based on your individual circumstances to ensure the best outcome for your child’s physical and emotional needs.

A specific issue order can be used to cover a wide range of issues that you and your ex-partner cannot agree on, including:

⦁    Whether or not your child or children should change their surnames (perhaps due to a parent remarrying),
⦁    Decisions about their education (which school they should go to, or home schooling),
⦁    If they should receive a religious education,
⦁    Whether they should take a particular medication or undergo a particular operation or other medical treatment,
⦁    If one parent wishes to take the child to live abroad on a permanent basis, and
⦁    Who the child should be allowed to have contact with.

You cannot get a specific issue order if your child is in the care of the local authority, has been placed for adoption, or is currently subject to any care or placement orders.

How to get a Specific Issue Order

In order to get a specific issue order, you’ll need to apply for permission from the courts. If they believe the problem cannot be worked out between you and your ex-partner (even with mediation), you’ll be given a date for your hearing.

In all cases, the main concern of the family court is the welfare of the child. for this reason, all applications for specific issue orders are heard before both a judge and a qualified social worker known as a Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Services Officer (CAFCASS).

In the first meeting, you and your ex-partner will need to work with these professionals to determine what issue needs to be resolved. Both of you will need to agree at this stage, however it will be difficult to progress if there have been allegations of domestic violence in the relationship.

The Specific Issue Hearing

In some cases, the judge may choose to make a specific issue order themselves. This is usually reserved for cases where the judge believes one of the parents is likely to go ahead with a particular course of action, such as a holiday or school change, without the other’s consent.

Other times, a judge may make an order of their own volition if the responsible parent is behaving in a way deemed to be inappropriate, such as taking them to places not suitable for children or leaving them in the care of unfit people.  

If the initial meeting is unsuccessful, you and your solicitor may need to plead your case in front of a district judge or magistrates.

Both you and the other parent will need to give witness statements. Then a CAFCASS officer will interview you both and form a report, if possible, also observing the child with each of you.

If your case goes to trial, you will each need to give evidence in the family court. The judge will take all statements, proof, and the CAFCASS report into consideration before drawing up a specific issue order to, hopefully, resolve the problem.


For professional guidance and support regarding your child arrangements, or for specialist advice on getting a specific issue order, call 03330096275 to speak to one of the UK’s leading family law solicitors, Ashmans Solicitors.

You can also fill in the enquiry form below, or email us on enquiries@ashmanssolicitors.com, and we will get back to you as soon as possible.


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