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Specific Issue Order

The Family Law Team assesses Specific Issue Orders and how to ask a question with regards to children.

What is a Specific Issue Order?

A Specific Issue Order (“SIO”) is an order giving directions for the purpose of determining a specific question which has arisen or which may arise, in connection with any aspect of parental responsibility for a child.

SIOs can contain directions about how they are to be carried out and can impose conditions. These directions and conditions can be directed towards any person:

  • Who is named in the order as a person with whom the child is to live, spend time or otherwise have contact.
  • Who is a parent of the child.
  • Who has parental responsibility (PR) for the child.
  • With whom the child is living.

When can I apply for an SIO?

Examples of when an SIO can be applied for are infinite, although common examples include an order that permits:

  • The relocation of the child from one part of the UK to another.
  • The child to undergo a certain type of medical procedure
  • The parent seeking permission to take a child on holiday when another parent refuses.

Who can apply?

 The court can make SIOs:

  • On application
  • On its own initiative if the welfare of a child arises during family proceedings.

The following persons are automatically entitled to make an application:

  • The child’s parent, guardian or special guardian.
  • The child’s step parent who has Parental Responsibility (“PR”).
  • Anyone named as the person with whom the child is to live in a CAO that is in force.

All other applicants, including the child, need the permission of the court to make an application for a SIO

Any court considering making an order on its own initiative will procedurally ensure that the parties have had an opportunity to be heard on the matter and will need to decide whether such an order is in the child’s interests. When considering whether to make an order the Court will take into account the welfare of the child with specific regard to the Welfare Checklist.

What is the Welfare Checklist?

When the family court is making a decision on matters that will affect a child, the courts are required to look at the welfare of the child as the paramount consideration. The welfare checklist consists of seven statutory criteria that the courts must consider under the Children Act 1989 when reaching its decision in cases involving children.

The seven criteria set out in the welfare checklist under s1(3) Children Act 1989 are:

  1. The ascertainable wishes and feelings of the child concerned
  2. The child’s physical, emotional and educational needs
  3. The likely effect on the child if circumstances changed as a result of the court’s decision
  4. The child’s age, sex, backgrounds and any other characteristics which will be relevant to the court’s decision
  5. Any harm the child has suffered or maybe at risk of suffering
  6. Capability of the child’s parents (or any other person the courts find relevant) at meeting the child’s needs
  7. The powers available to the court in the given proceedings

 How to make an application?

If you are looking to apply for to the family court for an SIO, then an application would need to be drafted and prepared to the Court. We would advise that you seek the advice of a specialist family solicitor should this be an application you wish to make, or should you wish to defend an SIO application you have received.

After you have lodged your child arrangement order the Court will arrange for a hearing date to be listed.

If parties cannot reach an agreement at the initial directions hearing, then the Court will list the matter for a final hearing Additionally parents will also file a witness statement to the court outlining their position before the final hearing takes place.

At the final hearing the Court will listen to both parties’ positions and an SIO will be granted should it be deemed by the Court that making the order would be better for the child than making no order at all.

For advice on Specific Issue Orders or Arrangements for Children please contact Helen Davies at Visit our Family Law page for our full list of services and more information about DTM Legal.

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