Difference between a Specific Issue Order and Prohibited Steps Order

Difference between a Specific Issue Order and Prohibited Steps Order

Following relationship breakdowns, disputes can often arise concerning specific issues for a child such as a child’s education choices, which school they should attend, or decisions on medical treatments, religious education, changing a child’s name/surname, taking a child abroad or preventing someone from having contact with a child (this is not an exclusive list). In these situations, the Family court can grant a Specific Issue Order to parents, or those who have parental responsibility cannot agree, this is known as a Section 8 Order.  Parents, guardians and those that have been granted parental responsibility can automatically apply for an order. Other individuals can apply for orders under section 8, but they must first ask the court for permission to apply.

A Prohibited Steps Order differs from a Specific Issue Order as it prevents the other parent from doing a certain action like preventing a party from removing a child from the jurisdiction, taking a child overseas for a holiday, prevent them from changing the child’s school, or changing the child’s legal name without consent.

When deciding whether an order should be made the Court’s primary concern is always what is in the best interests of the child. However, the Court will also consider a range of factors with reference to the welfare checklist set out in Section 1 of the Children Act, 1989 which includes the following factors:

  • Wishes and feelings of the child

  • The child’s physical, emotional and educational needs

  • Effect on the child if circumstances changed

  • The characteristics of the child including their age, sex and background

  • Whether the child is at a risk of suffering harm or any harm already suffered

  • The capability of the child’s parents in fulfilling their needs

The Court may seek the opinion of Cafcass, social workers, guardians, or other experts in making its decision. Cafcass is the important organisation within child proceedings as they are responsible for ensuring the court listens to the voice of the child. They only become involved in your case when the Court requests them. They carry out safeguarding checks in all cases and make representations to the court in a Section 7 Report where they outline their recommendation to the Court, these reports can be quite significant and impactful during child proceedings. 

If you are a party in need of legal advice, please contact our expert Family Team who can help discuss and advise on Section 8 Orders. For more advice please get in touch with us on 0116 212 1000 or email Fiona Wilson, Head of Family Law: fwilson@lawson-west.co.uk

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