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What is a Specific Issue Order?

If you and your partner have decided to separate, you’re probably already talking about how the children’s care arrangements will work. If you do end up in court, a Specific Issue Order is one of the court orders that you may come across.

In this article, we’ll explain what a Specific Issue Order is and when it is likely to be used.


What is a court order?

Before discussing the Specific Issue Order, it’s important to understand what a court order is and why you may need one.

If you are unable to reach an agreement about child arrangements between yourselves (known as a family-based arrangement), you may have to ask a judge to decide for you.

A court order is defined as: “a direction issued by a court or a judge requiring a person to do or not do something”.

There are a wide range of court orders available within the family courts. A Specific Issue Order is one type of court order that a judge may decide to utilise, depending on the circumstances and needs of a case.


What is a Specific Issue Order?

A Specific Issue Order is a type of court order that can be used if you and your partner do not agree about a specific issue with regards to your children. For example, a Specific Issue Order could be used to specify whether a child should go to a state school or a public school.

A Specific Issue Order can be made in conjunction with a Child Arrangement Order.

Alternatively, it can be made independently of any other court order. This may happen if both parents agree on the contact arrangements they have with the child, but do not agree on a specific issue.

When deciding whether to make a Specific Issue Order, the child’s welfare will always be the court’s top priority. When parents do not agree, the court will want to ensure that making the order is better for the child than not making the order.

Specific Issue Order


How can I apply for a Specific Issue Order?

Anyone with parental responsibility can apply for a Specific Issue Order.

You will need to complete a form in order to apply for a court order. Usually, you must show that you have attended a mediation meeting first. At the time of writing, it costs £215 to apply for a court order.

Those who do not have parental responsibility – like grandparents, for example – may be able to apply for a Specific Issue Order, but it will be necessary to get permission from the courts first.

Normally, it is possible to apply for a court order without the help of a family lawyer. However, it is highly recommended that you seek legal advice from an experienced solicitor beforehand, in order to understand how a Specific Issue Order may impact your child’s life. What’s more, a solicitor will make sure that there are not any errors on the form which may cause unnecessary delays.


What happens if I ignore a court order?

In the worst case scenario, you could receive a prison sentence.

It may be possible, in some circumstances, to appeal a court order. It is important to seek advice from a family solicitor before deciding what, if any, action to take.


Other articles that may be of interest to you?

Do I have parental responsibility?

Can maintenance orders be changed?

Parental Child Abduction: What you need to know

Prohibited Steps Order – What is this?

Grandparents’ rights following divorce

Can a father stop a mother taking child on holiday?

Could my ex move away with our children?

What is a Child Arrangements Order?


How can our expert divorce solicitors help you with a Specific Issue Order?

Our expert family law solicitors can help you with a range of legal issues relating to a Specific Issue Order, including:


Contact our expert divorce solicitors for advice on Specific Issue Orders

For more information call our divorce solicitors on 0845 862 5001 or email

Our expert family law solicitors offer a nationwide service. We have client meeting office facilities available, in order to have face-to-face client meetings / conferences as and when required in:

Leeds Office: St Andrew House, The Headrow, Leeds, LS1 5JW

Wakefield Office: Market Walk, Wakefield, WF1 1QR

Halifax Office: Old Lane, Halifax, HX3 5WP

Huddersfield Office: Northumberland Street Huddersfield, HD1 1RL

Coventry Office: Warwick Road, Coventry, CV1 2DY

Canary Wharf Office: 25 Canada Square, Canary Wharf, London, E14 5LB

Please contact us for more details.

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16th December 2019

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