Specific Issue Order: How to Apply


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What is a Specific Issue Order?

Navigating the complexities of family law, particularly when it comes to making significant decisions about a child’s upbringing, can be a challenging process for parents and guardians. One of the legal mechanisms designed to assist in such situations is the Specific Issue Order (SIO), a type of court order under the Children Act 1989.

A Specific Issue Order is used in family law to resolve disputes between parents or guardians regarding a particular aspect of a child’s life. This may include which school they should attend, whether they should receive a specific medical treatment, or other significant decisions affecting their physical, emotional, and educational welfare.

It is a type of court order that specifically directs how a particular issue regarding the child’s upbringing should be handled.

How to Apply for a Specific Issue Order

Before applying for a Specific Issue Order, it’s crucial to understand that this legal tool should be used when parties with parental responsibility cannot reach an agreement on a significant matter affecting the child. As with any legal process involving children, the child’s welfare should be the main concern.

The first step in the application process is to seek legal advice. A solicitor specialising in family law can provide guidance on whether an application for a Specific Issue Order is appropriate for your situation, advise on the likely outcomes, and help prepare your case.

Legal advice is invaluable in understanding the complexities of the Children Act 1989 and how it applies to your specific circumstances.

Before making an application to the family court, you will be required to attend a Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting (MIAM).

This step encourages parties to explore mediation as an alternative to court proceedings, aiming to find a mutually agreeable solution to the dispute.

However, if mediation is unsuccessful or deemed inappropriate for resolving the issue, particularly in cases involving domestic abuse or urgent medical treatment, you can proceed with the court application.

To apply for a Specific Issue Order, you will need to complete Form C100, the same form used for child arrangement orders and prohibited steps orders.

This application should detail the specific issue you wish to resolve, the views of all parties with parental responsibility, and any relevant information about the child’s welfare.

Once the application is submitted, the court may involve the Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service (CAFCASS). A CAFCASS officer might be appointed to prepare a report on the child’s welfare, considering their physical, emotional, and educational needs.

This report aims to provide the court with an independent assessment of the situation, focusing on the best interests of the child.

The application process involves one or more court hearings, starting with a First Hearing Dispute Resolution Appointment (FHDRA).

During these hearings, the court will consider the evidence, the CAFCASS report (if applicable), and the arguments from all parties involved. The aim is to resolve the dispute in a manner that prioritises the child’s welfare.

Throughout the proceedings, the court has the power to make interim orders as necessary, leading up to the final hearing where the Specific Issue Order will be decided.

It is important to note that the court’s decision-making process is guided by the welfare checklist outlined in the Children Act 1989, ensuring that all decisions are made in the child’s best interests.

When Specific Issue Orders are Used

Medical Treatment

One of the most common scenarios where a Specific Issue Order might be applied is in disputes over a child’s medical treatment.

Whether it’s a decision about undergoing a particular procedure or opting for alternative treatments, the court can make an order to ensure the child receives the care deemed most appropriate for their welfare.

Educational Decisions

Another frequent application of Specific Issue Orders is in resolving disputes about a child’s education, such as which school they should attend or whether they should partake in certain educational activities. These decisions are pivotal to a child’s development and future opportunities, making the intervention of a Specific Issue Order critical when consensus cannot be reached.

Religious Upbringing

Parents or guardians might have conflicting views on the religious education and practices that a child should follow. An SIO can determine whether a child should be raised within a particular faith, participate in religious activities, or undergo specific religious rites and ceremonies.

Change of Name

Disputes over changing a child’s name can be resolved with a Specific Issue Order. This includes changing the surname, first name, or both, especially after divorce or separation, where one parent may wish to revert to their maiden name or adopt a new family name.

Holidays and Travel

When parents cannot agree on taking a child on holiday, especially abroad, an SIO can be sought to resolve the matter. This ensures that holiday plans do not interfere with the other parent’s contact time or raise concerns about potential abduction.

Moving Abroad

One parent may wish to emigrate with the child to another country, which significantly impacts the child’s life and the contact they will have with the other parent. An SIO can address whether such a move is in the child’s best interests, balancing opportunities against the impact on family relationships.

How can ARC Costs Assist?

If you require the assistance of a solicitor to help you obtain or dispute a specific issue order, ARC Costs can introduce you to a solicitor in our network.

ARC Costs can assist in all legal costs matters, including costs in C100 applications, irrespective of whether you are a legally aided party, or a paying/receiving party. If a costs order is made, you should seek the assistance of a costs specialist immediately.

We also regularly provide assistance to law firms in legal aid funded cases, ranging from fixed costs matters, to exceptional costs claims and Very High Costs Cases (VHCCs).

We are highly experienced Costs Draftsmen/Costs Lawyers and have been successful in recovering substantial amounts in legal fees for our clients.

We can be contacted via email at info@arccosts.co.uk, or by telephone on 01204 397302. For more information on legal costs, please find out more about our speciality areas of expertise and our services on our legal costs page.

We may receive payments from third party solicitors on our panel to whom we may refer your claim. We will never charge you for any referrals made to our panel of third parties.


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01204 397302


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