What Is A Specific Issue Order And Can I Apply For One?
A Specific Issue Order is a type of court order granted by the Family Court. It determines how a dispute over a child’s upbringing or wellbeing should be resolved. As the name suggests, it is used for specific issues, such as decisions regarding the child’s name or education.
Anyone with parental responsibility can apply for a Specific Issue Order. Even if you don’t have parental responsibility for the child, you may be able to apply if you get the court’s permission.
If you are in the midst of a dispute regarding your child’s upbringing, we can advise whether a Specific Issue Order would be an appropriate way to proceed.
When would a Specific Issue Order be used?
Sometimes parents cannot make a decision together about the children’s upbringing or wellbeing. When this happens, a parent can ask the court to make a decision instead. The court will consider what is in the child’s best interests. The judge’s ruling will then be set out in a Specific Issue Order. This must be followed by the parties involved.
A Specific Issue Order can be used to resolve various kinds of dispute, including:
- Whether a child should change their name
- Whether a child should receive certain medical treatment, e.g., vaccinations
- Whether a child should have any religious education
- Decisions on where the child should attend school
- Permission to take the child abroad
- Preventing someone from having contact with the child (in certain circumstances)
Who can apply for a Specific Issue Order?
The following people can apply for a Specific Issue Order:
- Anyone with parental responsibility
- Anyone named on a Child Arrangement Order
If you do not fall into one of the above categories, you may be able to apply for a Specific Issue Order, but only if you get permission from the court first.
How to apply for a Specific Issue Order
If you are seeking a Specific Issue Order, the first step is to attend mediation. If mediation is unsuccessful, we would advise that you immediately speak to a family solicitor who can draft an application for a Specific Issue Order. Either parent is allowed to make an application to the court.
As with all cases involving children, the child’s welfare will be the court’s paramount concern. The court must also be satisfied that making a Specific Issue Order is better for the child than making no order at all. The court is also likely to instruct a Cafcass officer to prepare a report and to give a balanced opinion. This provides an independent recommendation in respect of the application and the welfare of the child.
A Specific Issue Order will automatically end when the child is 16 years of age unless there are exceptional circumstances.
Disputes over your child’s name
If your disagreement centres on your child’s surname, then it may be better to consider a compromise. This is something that is often considered by the court to ensure that links with both sides of the family are maintained. More commonly, parents are encouraged to consider a double-barrelled surname as this promotes the child’s identity in respect of the mother and the father’s family.
Speak to our Family Law Solicitors
If you are in the middle of a dispute regarding your child’s upbringing or wellbeing, please contact our Family Law Solicitors. We can explain the options open to you, recommending the best way forward.