What is a specific issue order?
There are inevitably many important decisions to be made during the course of a child’s upbringing. It is not unusual for parents to find themselves in disagreement about certain such decisions. It is of course always preferable if the parents are able to discuss and resolve these disagreements between themselves but it is not always possible. If a disagreement cannot be resolved then the assistance of the Court may be required. A specific issue order decides the answer to a particular question regarding the child’s upbringing. Commonplace areas where such questions arises include, but are not limited to, the following:
- Whether a child’s name should be changed
- Which school a child should attend
- Whether a child should be vaccinated
- What a certain medical treatment or surgery should be undertaken
- Which religion a child should practice
As with a prohibited steps order, a specific issue order cannot be used where a child arrangements order would resolve the issue. It also cannot be utilised as a way around a child arrangements order, for example, applying for a specific issue order to change the child’s school if it would mean that the child would need to change residence to attend that school.
When deciding whether to make a specific issue order, the Court will consider a number of factors contained within the welfare checklist.
How to apply?
To make an application you must generally have parental responsibility. However, specific issue orders can also be applied for by others with the permission of the Court which allows doctors, family relatives and the local authority to make such applications.
The application for the specific issue order is made on a form named a C100. Once this form has been submitted to the Court and sent to anyone else with parental responsibility, the Court will list a hearing to decide the timetable for progressing the application. It is likely the process will involve a number of hearings and that the Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service (CAFCASS) will advise on what they consider is best for the child.