What Is A Specific Issue Order & When Can It Be Applied For?

What is a Specific Issue Order?

A Specific Issue Order is a Court order that addresses a specific aspect of a child’s welfare or upbringing. Such as:

  • Where the child should go to school;
  • Any changes to their legal name;
  • What medical treatment the child should receive; or
  • Whether the child can travel abroad with a person who has parental responsibility.

A Specific Issue Order is usually made when the parents/guardians of a child cannot agree on a particular issue, and the Court therefore must intervene to make a decision in the best interests of the child. The order will set out the specific issue that the Court has ruled on and the steps that the parties involved must take to comply with the order.

Specific Issue Orders are just one of many types of orders that can be made by the Family Courts. Other orders include Prohibited Steps Orders and Child Arrangement Orders.

Who can apply for a Specific Issue Order?

Anyone who has parental responsibility for a child, such as a parent or a guardian, is legally able to apply for a Specific Issue Order. This can also include other individuals who have been granted parental responsibility, including step-parents, grandparents, or someone named in a “live with” Child Arrangements Order. If someone doesn’t fall into any of these categories, they may be able to apply for a Specific Issue Order, but only if they get permission from the Court first.

If there is a dispute between individuals with parental responsibility, then they will need to apply to the Family Courts to resolve the issue. In cases where there is an urgent need to resolve the issue, such as in situations involving the child’s safety or welfare, an individual with parental responsibility can also ask the Court to deal with the case as an emergency.

Those considering making an application for a Specific Issue Order should obtain legal advice before doing so. A specialist family solicitor will advise whether the application is appropriate in the circumstances.

How do I apply for a Specific Issue Order?

To apply for a Specific Issue Order you must apply to the Court using the designated form giving relevant information about the parties, the child, and the remedy you are asking the Court to endorse. The application form is available from the HM Courts and Tribunals Service website or can be obtained from the Family Courts. It is advisable to include evidence you rely on in support of the application.  A fee is payable upon filing the application.

After the application has been filed, the Court will schedule an initial hearing where both parties will have the opportunity to present their case and evidence. If parties are not able to come to a resolution at the initial hearing, the Court will typically request that the parties file statements before the matter is listed for a final hearing. If there are any welfare concerns then this may not be the case. Further, a Cafcass officer will often meet with both parties and then prepare a report.

The Court will then decide on the specific issue and issue a Specific Issue Order.

What factors will the Court consider?

The Court’s primary consideration is always the best interests of the child involved. However, the Court will consider a range of other factors when making its decision with reference to the welfare checklist.

This includes but is not limited to the child’s wishes and feelings, their physical, emotional, and educational needs, plus any risk of harm and the impact of any change by the order sought.

The Court may seek the opinion of Cafcass, social workers, guardians, or other experts in making its decision.

How long does a Specific Issue Order remain in place?

A Specific Issue Order can remain in place for a prescribed period of time until the specific issue of relevance has been resolved or until the child reaches the age of 18.

After the Court has made its decision, the order will set out the steps that the parties must take to comply with it.

The Court can vary or discharge a Specific Issue Order if there is a change in circumstances or if the original order is no longer in the best interests of the child. Either party can make an application to the Court to have the order varied or discharged.

Breach of a Specific Issue Order can have serious consequences for the party not complying with it. They may be held to be in contempt of Court, be fined, or in the very worst case face imprisonment.

Seek legal advice

It is important to note that the process of applying for a Specific Issue Order can be complex. It is advisable to seek legal advice to ensure that you are following the correct procedures and presenting your case effectively.

How Nelsons can helpSpecific Issue Order

Melanie Bridgen is a Partner in our expert Family Law team, who strives to empower and achieve the best outcome for her clients.

At Nelsons, we have a team of specialist solicitors in Derby, Leicester or Nottingham who are experienced in advising on a wide range of Family Law matters.

If you have any family law-related queries, please contact us and we will be happy to discuss your circumstances in more detail and give you more information about the services that our family law solicitors can provide along with details of our hourly rates and fixed fee services.

Please contact Melanie or another member of the team on 0800 024 1976 or via our online form.

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