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Specific Issue Orders

By: Lorna Elliott LLB (hons), Barrister - Updated: 12 May 2017 |
 
Specific Issue Order Court Child Family

Specific Issue Orders, much like the name suggests, are orders sought from the family court to determine a particular matter in connection with the exercise of Parental Responsibility. These orders can cover a wide range of issues that you and your ex-partner cannot agree on, such as:

        
  • Whether your child or children should change their name(s)
  • Decisions pertaining to their education
  • Whether they should have a particular medical treatment or operation
  • Whether they should receive religious or non-religious education
  • Taking the child to live abroad on a permanent basis
  • Preventing someone from having contact with your child

What the Court Will Do

As in all cases, the court’s main concern is the welfare of the child in question. The court will always put the child’s best interests first and this main issue will determine the outcome of any application for an order. Applications for a Specific Issue Order are heard before a judge and a representative from Cafcass (Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Services Officer), who is a qualified social worker. In the first instance, this meeting will endeavour to reach an agreement between the parents as to how to determine the issue. This needs the consent of both parents, which can often be impossible if there have been allegations of domestic violence.

Court's Discretion to Make Order of its Own Volition

It is important to note that a magistrate or judge may make a Specific Issue Order of their own volition. This is generally in situations in which the judge is satisfied that there is a risk that the parent in question may go ahead with a particular course of action without seeking the other’s consent. In other circumstances, and only if there are grounds to do so, the judge or magistrate may make a Specific Issue Order if the responsible parent is acting in an inappropriate way. This could relate to, for example, taking the child to places that are not deemed suitable for children, or leaving them in the care of a person who is unsuitable for childcare.

Directions For Hearing

If this meeting does not prove productive, the parents and the Cafcass officer, along with any solicitors representing either party, go before the District Judge or magistrates in order to obtain directions for a trial. Usually both parents submit witness statements, and the Cafcass officer (which could be the same person as before, but not necessarily) will then interview both parents and prepare a report. If possible, the Cafcass officer should see the child in the company of each of the parents.

Full Hearing

If the case then goes to a final hearing, each parent will give evidence in the Family Court and will be asked questions under oath by the opposing side. It is commonplace for the Cafcass officer’s report to settle matters before the final hearing happens and it is quite rare for a judge to find against the recommendations made in the report. If this happens, the judge must provide reasons for doing so. If the judge has made an error of law in coming to this decision, you can challenge the decision by way of judicial review. This is a complicated legal procedure, however, and you should always seek legal advice before embarking on such a claim. For more information, see the page on www.CourtroomAdvice.co.uk.

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Hi there, I split up with my ex 4 years ago.. we somehow (not without arguments) managed to get through the last 4 years and arranged childcare without courts. He has done a lot wrong and i didnt walk out just coz i felt like it. he didnt pay rent, has other major issues etc. He had her for 2 xmases and last year i had her. Logically i want her for 2 xmases as well, after which we will go back to normal 1 xmas each. i boked a holiday away for xmas and he is now saying he will stop her going. I am already thinking to get a mediator involved and if we cant agree we will go to court as its plenty of time till then. however in 12 days we are going away for another holiday that he has agreed to and said its ok for us to go. Now my worry is he will create drama just to be spiteful to me and we will be stopped at the boarder. Can he do so in 12 days?.. the last thing i need is to get to the airport with all the bags packed and be turned away.. thanks for your help.
Abbriori - 12-May-17 @ 12:03 PM
Me and my partner split up about 1 month ago after living together for 7 years. We have a 7year old and a 1year old together. This has been so hard for me as been used to seeing my children every day. We had a holiday booked together for June this year where her parents are also booked to go with us. As it's her parents place. I have now been told that obviously I can't go now we are split but they are all still going. This is a 2 week holiday leaving early Sunday morning coming home early on a Sunday morning. With my work I can only have my children on weekends so this will mean that I won't see them for 4 weeks. I have asked my partner to change the flights to only go for 1 week as I feel 2 weeks is to long but she has refused. Can I stop her from going for 2 weeks? I can't cope with the thought of not seeing my children for 4 weeks. Anything I can do?
Mcgorey - 8-May-17 @ 7:32 PM
Sabrina93- Your Question:
Iv booked a holiday for June with my two children my friend and her one child. The children father is saying he won't consent to going on holiday for a week because he doesn't trust il be able to look after them on, saying it will be dangerous taking them without him and he wants to go on a family holiday which wouldn't work becuase we don't get on and he is very unpredictable. He is on one of the children's birth cert but not the other child. I have the children living with me and he has one of the children three times a week at maximum. Is there anything I can do without going to court as the holiday is 5 weeks away, does just being on the birth cert give him parental responsibility

Our Response:
You must get the permission of everyone with parental responsibility for a child or from a court before taking the child abroad, please see gov.uk link here.
SeparatedDads - 8-May-17 @ 2:23 PM
Iv booked a holiday for June with my two children my friend and her one child. The children father is saying he won't consent to going on holiday for a week because he doesn't trust il be able to look after them on, saying it will be dangerous taking them without him and he wants to go on a family holiday which wouldn't work becuase we don't get on and he is very unpredictable. He is on one of the children's birth cert but not the other child. I have the children living with me and he has one of the children three times a week at maximum. Is there anything I can do without going to court as the holiday is 5 weeks away, does just being on the birth cert give him parental responsibility
Sabrina93 - 7-May-17 @ 10:06 PM
Lou - Your Question:
I would like to find what rights I have as a mom. I have two sons whom their father refuses to skype, call, or have any contact whatsoever. He was banned from South Africa where I currently reside with the boys and he has gone back home to live in the UK where he was born and raised. I have asked if he would sign consent for me to move to uk with the boys so that he could see them however he refuses and tells me my life is not in his country. Am I really trapped? Surely since he doesn't even live here I can go abroad?

Our Response:
Unless you are in a relationship with your children's father and he agreed to apply to sponsor you or your children to come to the UK, then you have no way of applying to live in the UK, unless you apply for a visa independently (such as a working visa). Also, the rules of applying for family dependents to come to the UK are very strict and are dependent upon very particular requirements, please see gov.uk link here which explains all. On another note, a court will never force a non-resident parent to see their children if the parent does not want to have links with their children.
SeparatedDads - 12-Apr-17 @ 10:40 AM
I would like to find what rights I have as a mom. I have two sons whom their father refuses to skype, call, or have any contact whatsoever. He was banned from South Africa where I currently reside with the boys and he has gone back home to live in the UK where he was born and raised. I have asked if he would sign consent for me to move to uk with the boys so that he could see them however he refuses and tells me my life is not in his country. Am I really trapped? Surely since he doesn't even live here I can go abroad?
Lou - 11-Apr-17 @ 12:25 PM
The home Office have told me I need to get a Specific Issues Order to get my son a passport and I can't understand why as I have had parental responsibility and been the sole parent since 2012. His mum died in Dec 2015 and I am his only family. I changed his surname in Sept 2016 as his mum did not put me on the original certificate. I should have gone on holiday after I was offered the use of a Spanish villa from 1st April to 15th for free and couldn't go without his passport. It all makes no sense. I even contacted my MP but he couldn't do anything.
Joe - 3-Apr-17 @ 4:58 PM
Hi recently found out from my children that they are moving away in the summer because I wasn't told by the mother wat was happening I was advised to apply for a prohibited steps order as it would severely effect my contact I dint drive and They will be an hour and half away basically told kids if I wanna see them I got to get them would applying for this order stop the initial move from happening
sutty72 - 9-Feb-17 @ 6:39 AM
Dan - Your Question:
My ex partner has moved 150 miles away from where I live and is demanding I collect my three children every weekend and return them after two nights.im finding it hard financially to do this trip each week and fear that it may have to stop is there any legal help to make the travelling fairer and we share the trip?

Our Response:
If you pay child maintenance through the CMS you may be able to apply for a special expenses variation, please see link here. I hope this helps.
SeparatedDads - 18-Jan-17 @ 2:24 PM
My ex partner has moved 150 miles away from where I live and is demanding I collect my three children every weekend and return them after two nights.im finding it hard financially to do this trip each week and fear that it may have to stop is there any legal help to make the travelling fairer and we share the trip?
Dan - 14-Jan-17 @ 10:33 AM
My 13 yr old daughter always lived with her mum and she suddenly stopped me from seeing so I applied to a contact order and it was granted I got every other weekend etc this was in 2011. This year however my child came to live with me on her own accord. The mother called the police but as she didn't have a residency order and my daughter is 13 and spoke to the police on her own they said they have no concerns so she has been with me nearly a year now. My issue is her mother has her passport (I was not originally on her birth certificate but after court I am on it now) the mother won't give the passport and the passport won't let me apply for another as she has one. Is my only option to apply for a Specif Issues Order to make the mother hand it over? And if yes,I am concerned she will try and obtain a contact order whilst in court when I will have paid for court proceedings.
Knight - 31-Dec-16 @ 6:33 PM
Danny - Your Question:
My daughters mother stops me from seeing my child when she want, every time she get a new partner she start acting up and all she threatens me with is I'm taking you to court, I do not work I'm on jobseekers allowance but trying to start my own company so money's not aways there but when I can't give her no money she start with your not seeing your child, she didn't involve me in anything to do with my daughters school she changes her school when she wants without consulting me plus I don't get to collect or bring my child to school ever when my daughter said to me she would like me to bring her to school one day a week, she plays these mind game and makes Fritz all the time what can I do and what are my rights ?

Our Response:
Please see link: When Your Ex-Partner Denies You Access here. However, in the first instance if you cannot resolve this or any child access situation, then you should consider mediation as court is considered as a last resort, please see link here . If mediation does not work, or if your ex refuses to attend, then you can apply to court. If you cannot afford legal fees, you can self litigate, please see link here. In addition, child access is not dependent upon child maintenance. Neither have any bearing on each other meaning you won't be refused access on the basis that you have limited means to pay.
SeparatedDads - 21-Dec-16 @ 11:05 AM
My daughters mother stops me from seeing my child when she want, every time she get a new partner she start acting up and all shethreatens me with is I'm taking you to court, I do not worki'm on jobseekers allowance but trying to start my own company so money's not aways there but when I can't give her no money she start with your not seeing your child, she didn'tinvolve me inanything to do with my daughters school she changes her school when she wants without consulting me plus I don't get to collect or bring my child to school ever when my daughter said to me she would like me to bring her to school one day a week, she plays these mind game and makesFritz all the time what can I do and what are my rights ?
Danny - 20-Dec-16 @ 4:12 PM
My ex moved 2 hours away last spring. According to a court order he sees the kids every other weekend. I want to move my daughter from a state school to a private one, bearing full responsibilitty for the costs myself. He's refusing to sign the form although it doesn't impact him. Our other child is in private school also at my cost. Is there any reason a judge could refuse to let me move her if she wants to go?
Betty - 10-Dec-16 @ 3:29 PM
Lisa - Your Question:
Can a father stop the mother seeing the 6week old child the father took the baby as his ex slept with someone else

Our Response:
Is the father registered on the birth certificate? Please see link: What Happens If My Ex Keeps the Children Without My Consent? here.
SeparatedDads - 6-Dec-16 @ 2:46 PM
Can a father stop the mother seeing the 6week old child the father took the baby as his ex slept with someone else
Lisa - 3-Dec-16 @ 3:41 PM
My Ex won't allow me to meet my daughter. She is now 14. My daughter is under the influence of her mother which is a good thing but I am worried because my ex wife has recently got married and her partner doesn't have a permanent visa to stay in the U.K. My daughter is living with her step father and mother. I understand my ex wife's husband has only got married for a permanent visa and once he has got his British passport he will leave and go. My ex wife does not see this, fine that's her choice but why is she now influencing my daughter to not to come and visit me. I never knew my ex wife had got married and I understand she had the duty to tell me. My ex wife has changed her mobile number so I can't even contact her.I now live with my wife and daughter aged nine. I am a full time worker and I am able to support my children. Please advice me what should I do?
Sunil - 3-Nov-16 @ 3:59 PM
Nige - Your Question:
My ex is denying me collecting my son from nursery which is 100 yards from my house once during the week. She will only allow me to see him once a week. I have parental responsibility and he has my surname.

Our Response:
You would have to either suggest mediation to your ex, or if she refuses take the matter to court in order to pursue this issue.
SeparatedDads - 5-Oct-16 @ 12:46 PM
My ex is denying me collecting my son from nursery which is 100 yards from my house once during the week. She will only allow me to see him once a week. I have parental responsibility and he has my surname.
Nige - 4-Oct-16 @ 6:04 PM
My x stopped me from seeing my son after regular contact then it's been yes you can see him then no you can't all because she has a new partner,my son is 14 months old and I need to see him as it's killing me ,what can I do?
edward - 2-Sep-16 @ 11:02 AM
Jue - Your Question:
My son is not longer with his partner due to no fault of his own. He has his daughter ever weekend one wk fri to mon and tge following sun overnight. He wants to go away for a week but his ex has said she will stop him seeing his daughter alt all because he's putting a holiday before her. Could you please advise whether he has a right to have one week off in a year. I have offered to have her but it's not good enough.

Our Response:
Unfortunately, if your son's ex chooses to be awkward she can prevent your son from seeing his daughter if she chooses. A non-resident parent has no specific 'rights' to access over their children, at best it is negotiated amicably between both parents, at worst the resident parent can choose to restrict access sometimes for no reason at all. If your son's ex denies your son access, your son would either have to suggest mediation to his ex, or apply to court for a child arrangement order in order to regain access to his child. Please see link: When Your Ex-Partner Denies You Access here. I hope this helps.
SeparatedDads - 30-Aug-16 @ 10:46 AM
My son is not longer with his partner due to no fault of his own. He has his daughter ever weekend one wk fri to mon and tge following sun overnight. He wants to go away for a week but his ex has said she will stop him seeing his daughter alt all because he's putting a holiday before her. Could you please advise whether he has a right to have one week off in a year.I have offered to have her but it's not good enough.
Jue - 29-Aug-16 @ 9:44 AM
My partners ex is refusing us to take the children abroad next year for 10 nights as she is saying she fears the children are not safe with us although she let us take them to Blackpool for 4 nights this year. If she deemed us not safe would she not let us take them anywhere. We went to court for access last year and have them 2 nights a week it says holidays to be arranged between you. Would court allow us to have a family holiday as she is the most awkward woman I have ever met and won't let us be a family as then manipulates the children
Melody - 19-Aug-16 @ 9:33 PM
Cas25 - Your Question:
My partner of 10years has a 14 year old daughter who we see every other weekend. We travel 150 miles round trip to see her for one day as her mum will not allow her to stay overnight. Access has been restricted for years due to ex's controlling ways. Daughter wants to come on holiday with us and our daughter (her sister) and my son but ex refuses saying she is not ready, too young to look after herself! Daughter is a mature teenager but scared to stand up to mum as she says her mother is stubborn and just argues with her about it. What can we do to resolve this? Ex is not acting in her child's best interests and we feel we are not supporting daughter's wishes by doing nothing. Advice greatly appreciated.

Our Response:
Much depends on when the holiday is. You could apply through court for a Specific Issue Order, please see link here. However, you would have to leave enough time for the matter to be heard in court. Now that your partner's daughter is 14, her wishes will be taken on board. However, if she is unwilling to speak out against her mother, then this leaves you in a tricky situation. The plus-side is that in a few years time your partner's daughter will be able to make her own decisions. Likewise, on another note, and simultaneously, should your partner wish to apply to the courts to extend the access to an overnight stay (given the amount of travel time every other weekend) then your partner will be able to take the matter to court and his daughter will be able to express her wishes also. If he is put off by the high legal fees, he can self-litigate, please see link here. You may wish to seek legal advice in the first instance. I hope this helps.
SeparatedDads - 27-Jul-16 @ 11:41 AM
My partner of 10years has a 14 year old daughter who we see every other weekend. We travel 150 miles round trip to see her for one day as her mum will not allow her to stay overnight. Access has been restricted for years due to ex's controlling ways. Daughter wants to come on holiday with us and our daughter (her sister) and my son but ex refuses saying she is not ready, too young to look after herself! Daughter is a mature teenager but scared to stand up to mum as she says her mother is stubborn and just argues with her about it. What can we do to resolve this? Ex is not acting in her child's best interests and we feel we are not supporting daughter's wishes by doing nothing. Advice greatly appreciated.
Cas25 - 26-Jul-16 @ 8:37 PM
My partners ex walked out on him after 17 years they were married and have a 4yr old girl since splitting they have had a divorce but the mum decided to move 125miles away with the daughter enrolling her in a school and not telling him until a week before they were moving he use to have her every weekend and Tuesday his time has now been cut down to every other weekend and has to drive 125 miles to pick her up and take her home. He pays maintenance for her but the mum keeps taking her on holidays for 2/3 weeks at a time and not giving notice that he has to go a month not seeing her can anyone please help
Chelle - 11-Jul-16 @ 3:16 PM
I am divorced with my 4 year old's dad. He only shows up once in a bluemoon and doesn't pay child maintainance. I want to take my child to live with my parents abroad for about 4 years as I want to go back to university. How do I go on about this?
Andy - 11-Jul-16 @ 9:08 AM
Hi, Me and my ex wife are separating under 5 yrs of separation. I have been supporting her though this entire period with monthly child maintenance payments, as well as paying for holidays with my sons and other misc expenses. She left the UK over 5 yrs ago as she wasn't happy with my financial abilities as she comes from a wealthy family and wanted to live with her parents to benefit from their higher standard of living. I have been granted a NISI by the courts in the UK but she has now put in a request for a financial order which i will be attending the hearing for shortly. my questions are - she is requestingalimony in addition to the maintenance. Do i have any grounds for contesting the alimony ?
AM - 1-Jul-16 @ 2:02 PM
Hi my ex partner has been very unstable in he's life and has been in and out of my little girls life , I tried mediation but he never showed , now he's moved out of the country to be with he's new gf . He keeps asking me if he can have her for a holiday but I just don't know how I feel about this ? Any advice
Ash - 12-Jun-16 @ 7:04 AM
Daddyrocks - Your Question:
Hi. I don't want to take my 2 year old girl back to her mother. I fear for her safeguarding. Me and the mother are still married but separated.Can I refuse to take her home and what will I have to do legally from there or if my question fails

Our Response:
Please see link: What Happens If My Ex Keeps the Children Without My Consent? here. If you have safeguarding issues you should contact Social Services asap if you feel your child is in danger. However, keeping your child without the other parent's consent is always a tricky issue, therefore I should seek legal advice if you are considering doing this. As specified in the article, if you can show that your former partner is not able or appropriate to look after your child, you may be able to get an order stating that the children should live with you. However you will need to evidence this. If you don't have evidence or your evidence is weak then going to these extreme measures can backfire on you as if your ex has your child returned to her, then future trust and access issues towards you can be affected. Therefore, this is why legal advice is needed to ensure you are approaching the situation in the correct manner.
SeparatedDads - 31-May-16 @ 10:22 AM
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