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What is a Specific Issues Order and do I need one?

What is a Specific Issues Order?

Specific Issues Order images depicting things like Medical Care, Religion and Education

For divorcing or separating couples, child arrangement disputes can be difficult to agree. But even if these are agreed, there can be specific issues that parents just cannot agree on. Parents do have several options available to assist them in resolving these disputes. If any of the other methods to resolve a dispute do not work, then the legal option is the Specific Issues Order. But what is a Specific Issues Order?

In this blog, we will unpack what exactly a Specific Issues Order entails, its significance in family law proceedings in England and Wales and how you can obtain one when needed.

What is a Specific Issues Order?

A Specific Issues Order, commonly referred to as SIO, is a legal directive, issued by a Family Court, to address specific questions or disputes relating to the upbringing of a child.

Unlike other types of court orders such as Residence Orders or Child Arrangement Orders, which determine where a child should live or who they should spend time with, a Specific Issues Order focuses on resolving specific issues or disagreements between parties with parental responsibility.

Here are some examples of matters that may be addressed through an SIO:

  • Education – Determining the choice of school, including issues related to religious or cultural education.
  • Medical treatment – Resolving disputes regarding medical treatment or surgery for a child.
  • Religious upbringing – Deciding on matters related to a child’s religious upbringing or participation in religious ceremonies.
  • Name change – Settling disputes over changing a child’s surname or forename.
  • Holiday arrangements – Clarifying arrangements for holidays or vacations, especially if they conflict with court-ordered contact arrangements.

The overarching aim of a Specific Issues Order is to promote the welfare and best interests of the child(ren) involved while providing a framework for resolving disputes between the parties involved.

How do I get a Specific Issues Order?

Obtaining a Specific Issues Order typically involves initiating proceedings in the Family Court. Let’s have a look at a general overview of the steps you would likely follow:

Step 1 – Seek Legal Advice

Before proceeding with a Specific Issues Order, it’s advisable to seek legal advice from a qualified family law solicitor. They can assess your situation, provide guidance on whether pursuing an SIO is appropriate and assist you throughout the process.

Step 2 – Attend Mediation

Family mediation is the Government’s and the court’s preferred method of dispute resolution when dealing with disputes that may arise as part of your divorce or separation.

The process of Family Mediation offers an opportunity for parties to discuss their concerns with the assistance of a trained mediator, with the aim of reaching a mutually acceptable resolution without the need for court intervention.

The Government have allocated vouchers for mediation up to the value of £500 for couples who need help reaching an agreement on parenting matters. There are more details on this scheme HERE.

As an absolute minimum, in order for the courts to start processing a hearing for your case, they will want to see that you have at least considered mediation by way of attending a MIAM (Mediation Information & Assessment Meeting).

It’s important to note that the only time you won’t need a MIAM is if one of the listed exemptions applies to you.

Remember, a court will expect both parties to try to have resolved matters between them, before attending court.



Step 3 – Submit an application (C100).

 If mediation proves unsuccessful or is inappropriate for your circumstances, the next step is to submit a C100 application to the Family Court, detailing the specific issue(s) in dispute, and providing relevant evidence to support your case.

A C100 Form asks for a family court to make a judgement under Section 8 of the Children Act 1989.  In other words, you are asking a court to make a decision on the parenting arrangements for your child(ren).

You can download C100 form here.

Step 4 – Court Proceedings

Currently, the court fees for a C100 application are £255.  In certain situations, you may be eligible for a court fee remission.  To find out if you are eligible click HERE.

Once your application is submitted, the court will review the case and may schedule hearings to consider the matter further. During these proceedings, both parties will have the opportunity to present their arguments and evidence before a judge.

Step 5 – Court Order

If the court determines that a Specific Issues Order is necessary and in the best interests of the child, they will issue an order outlining the terms and conditions that must be followed by the parties involved. This order is legally binding and must be adhered to by all parties with parental responsibility.


In conclusion, a Specific Issues Order serves as the final legal option for resolving specific disputes concerning the upbringing of children (in England and Wales). By providing a structured framework for addressing contentious issues, such as those mentioned above, SIOs aim to promote the welfare and best interests of the child(ren) involved.

C100 Form on PhoneIf you find yourself in a situation where you need a Specific Issues Order, remember that it is important to take the correct legal advice and carefully manage the court proceedings. Your conduct in trying to resolve this dispute before going to court can be looked at by the court, especially when it comes to legal costs.

Therefore, an SIO should only be used when all other avenues to resolve the issue have been exhausted and the child or children are suffering negatively because a decision cannot be made.

You can download and read more about competing a C100 Form here.


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