What is a Specific Issue Order?
A Specific Issue Order is an order made by the family court to determine a specific question or issue that has arisen in connection with issues relating to Parental Responsibility for a child. If you find yourself in a situation where you are unable to reach an agreement in relation to an issue relating to your Parental Responsibility for a child, you can make an application to the family court for a Specific Issue Order, to allow the Court to make a decision in relation to the issue in question. It differs from a Child Arrangements Order in the sense that these orders are to decide specific, isolated issues, as opposed to the long-term contact arrangements for a child.
What is a Prohibited Steps Order?
A Prohibited Steps Order is an order made by the family court to prevent a parent from making a decision in relation to a child, or to prevent a parent from doing something in relation to a child.
The scenarios that could give rise to an application for a Specific Issue or Prohibited Steps Order are fairly wide. Some examples of the types of issues that can be decided by way of a Specific Issue Order or Prohibited Steps Order are as follows:-
- If a child is allowed to relocate both within or outside of the jurisdiction
- Changing a child’s name
- Education – What school should a child attend
- Medical – If a child should receive a certain medial treatment/ operation.
Also see: https://wendyhopkins.co.uk/no-parental-agreement-to-covid-19-vaccination/
How are Specific Issue Orders and Prohibited Steps Orders made?
An application for a Specific Issue or Prohibited Steps Order can be made by filing form C100 with the Court, where the Court will then list a hearing, during which the Court will often direct the parties to file evidence in the form of statements to assist the Court in reaching a decision on the issue in question. However, depending on the complexity of the issue before the Court, the Court may request that each party is to give oral evidence at a Final Hearing.
The Court is also able to make a Specific Issue or Prohibited Steps Order during the course of wider Child Arrangement Order proceedings, if the Court has sufficient concerns that one party may, for example, relocate with the child without the consent of the other party or the Court.
What factors does the Court consider when considering an application for a Specific Issue Order or a Prohibited Steps Order?
In any child arrangements application, the main consideration of the Court will be the welfare of the child and what is in the child’s best interests. The Children Act 1989 provides guidelines for judges to consider when making their decision, and these are:
- The wishes and feelings of the child
- The child’s physical, emotional and educational needs
- The Effect on the child of any change in circumstance
- The characteristics of the child including their age, sex and background
- Whether the child is at a risk of suffering harm or any harm already suffered
- The capability of the child’s parents in fulfilling their needs
The difference between a Specific Issue Order and a Prohibited Steps Order?
The main difference between a Specific Issue Order and a Prohibited Steps Order is that a Specific Issue Order can be applied for when parents or those with parental responsibility for a child are unable to make a decision on a specific issue for a child. A Prohibited Steps Order can be applied for to prevent the other parent, or other person with parental responsibility for a child from taking a certain action in relation to a child.
For more information on child matters or if you think you need a Prohibited Steps Order or Specific Issue Order, contact us today to speak with one of our family law experts.
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Author: Kate Williams