When it comes to family law in the UK, there are various types of orders that can be issued by the court to resolve disputes between family members. One of these is a Specific Issue Order, which is used to address a specific issue or disagreement between parents or other family members. In this article, we will explore what a Specific Issue Order is, when it may be necessary, and how it is obtained.
What is a Specific Issue Order?
A Specific Issue Order is a type of court order that is issued by the family court to resolve a specific issue or disagreement between family members. This could include issues related to a child’s upbringing, such as where they should go to school, what religion they should be raised in, or whether they should receive a certain medical treatment.
It is important to note that a Specific Issue Order can only be issued for issues that fall within the jurisdiction of the family court, which includes matters related to children and their upbringing.
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When is a Specific Issue Order Necessary?
A Specific Issue Order may be necessary in a variety of situations, including:
- When parents are unable to agree on where a child should go to school
- When there is a disagreement about a child’s religious upbringing
- When one parent wants to take a child on a vacation or move to a different country with them and the other parent does not agree
- When there is a disagreement about a child’s medical treatment, such as whether they should receive a certain vaccination or undergo a specific procedure
In these situations, a Specific Issue Order can be sought to resolve the dispute and provide a clear decision on the matter.
How does a Specific Issue Order relate to a Child Arrangement Order
A Specific Issue Order and a Child Arrangement Order are two different types of orders in UK family law but they are related.
A Specific Issue Order is a court order that is used to resolve a specific issue or dispute between parents or other parties with parental responsibility for a child. It is sought when there is a disagreement about a particular aspect of the child’s upbringing or care, such as education, religion, medical treatment, or travel.
On the other hand, a Child Arrangements Order is a court order that determines with whom a child will live and how much time they will spend with each parent or guardian. It is obtained when parents are unable to agree on the arrangements for their child’s care and residence.
So, while a Specific Issue Order focuses on resolving a specific dispute, a Child Arrangement Order is broader and deals with the overall living arrangements for the child.
In some cases, a Specific Issue Order may be sought as part of the proceedings for a Child Arrangement Order. For example, if there is a dispute about which school the child should attend, this specific issue may be addressed within the context of the Child Arrangement Order.
It is important to note that both types of orders are made by the family court and are based on what is deemed to be in the best interests of the child.
Specific Issue Orders vs Prohibitive Steps Order
A Specific Issue Order and a Prohibitive Steps Order are both types of court orders in UK family law, but they serve different purposes.
A Specific Issue Order is issued by the court to determine a specific issue or dispute between the parties involved as outlined above.
On the other hand, a Prohibitive Steps Order is issued to prevent a certain action or behaviour by one party that may have a negative impact on the child or the other party. It is used to prohibit a specific action rather than resolve a dispute or determine an issue. For example, a Prohibitive Steps Order may be issued to prevent one parent from taking the child abroad without the consent of the other parent.
Both types of orders can be enforced if one party fails to comply. An application can be made to the court for enforcement against the non-compliant party, and the court may take further action to ensure compliance. Failure to comply with a court order can result in penalties or consequences for the non-compliant party.
How is a Specific Issue Order Obtained?
In order to obtain a Specific Issue Order, an application must be made to the family court normally with the help of a family law solicitor. This can be done by either parent or any other person with parental responsibility for the child, such as a grandparent or legal guardian.
The application must include details of the specific issue that needs to be resolved, as well as any evidence or supporting documents that may be relevant to the case. The court will then consider the application and make a decision based on what is in the best interests of the child.
The Role of Mediation
Before making an application for a Specific Issue Order, it is important to consider whether mediation may be a more appropriate option. Mediation involves both parties meeting with a trained mediator to try and reach an agreement on the issue without involving the court.
Mediation can be a more cost-effective and less stressful option for all parties involved and it is often encouraged by the court before making an application for a Specific Issue Order. However, if mediation is unsuccessful or not appropriate in the situation, then an application for a Specific Issue Order can be made.
The Court Process
Once an application for a Specific Issue Order has been made, the court will schedule a hearing to consider the case. Both parties will be required to attend the hearing, and the court may also request the presence of the child if they are old enough to express their wishes and feelings.
During the hearing, both parties will have the opportunity to present their case and provide any evidence or witnesses to support their position. The court will then make a decision based on what is in the best interests of the child.
Factors Considered by the Court
When considering a Specific Issue Order in UK family law, the court takes into account various factors to make a decision that is in the best interests of the child involved. These factors may include:
- The child’s welfare: The primary concern of the court is the welfare of the child. The court will consider factors such as the child’s physical, emotional, and educational needs, as well as their wishes and feelings if they are old enough to express them.
- Parental involvement: The court will assess the level of involvement of each parent in the child’s life and their ability to meet the child’s needs. This includes considering factors such as the parent’s history of care, their relationship with the child, and their ability to provide a stable and nurturing environment.
- Impact on the child: The court will evaluate how the specific issue being considered will impact the child’s overall well-being and development. They will consider any potential benefits or risks associated with the decision.
- Siblings and family relationships: The court will also take into account the importance of maintaining relationships between the child and their siblings, as well as other family members who play a significant role in the child’s life.
- Any relevant evidence: Both parties will have the opportunity to present evidence and witnesses to support their position. The court will carefully consider this evidence when making a decision.
It is important to note that each case is unique, and the court will consider all relevant factors before making a decision on a Specific Issue Order.
What Happens After a Specific Issue Order is Issued?
Once a Specific Issue Order has been issued, both parties are legally bound to comply with the decision made by the court. This means that the child must be raised in accordance with the terms of the order, and any decisions made by the court must be followed.
If one party fails to comply with the Specific Issue Order, the other party can apply to the court for enforcement. This may result in the non-compliant party facing penalties or consequences for not following the court’s decision.
Dealing with Non-Compliance
When one party fails to comply with a Specific Issue Order in UK family law, the other party can take legal action by applying to the court for enforcement. This means that if the court has issued a specific order regarding a particular issue related to the child, such as where they should live or which school they should attend, both parties are legally obligated to follow that decision.
If one party fails to comply with the Specific Issue Order, the other party can bring the issue back to court. The court may then take further action to enforce the order and ensure compliance. The non-compliant party may face penalties or consequences for not following the court’s decision. These consequences can vary depending on the specific circumstances of the case and the severity of the non-compliance.
It is important for both parties to understand the consequences of not complying with a Specific Issue Order. Failure to comply can not only result in legal consequences but also affect the overall well-being and stability of the child involved. It is advisable to seek legal advice from a family law solicitor if you are facing non-compliance or if you need assistance in enforcing a Specific Issue Order.
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