Parental Rights and Responsibilities

Date Added 17.01.24

When divorced or separated parents find themselves in a dispute over arrangements for their children, seeking assistance from the family court may become necessary. In the UK, court orders relating to child law disputes, include Child Arrangements Orders, Specific Issue Orders and Prohibited Steps Orders.

In this article our Stevenage family law solicitors look at Prohibited Steps Orders and Specific Issues Orders and when they may be required.

What is a Prohibited Steps Order?

A Prohibited Steps Order (PSO) is a court order that prevents or restricts a party, usually a parent, from exerting their parental responsibility. For example, removing the child from the area where they live, travelling or moving abroad, or changing their school.

What is a Specific Issue Order? 

A Specific Issue Order (SIO) is a court order that deals with a specific issue or concern regarding a child’s upbringing or welfare. It is used when parents or those with parental responsibility cannot agree on a particular decision, such as medical treatment, schooling, or religious upbringing.

How do you apply for a Prohibited Steps Order or Specific Steps Order?

If you are in dispute with a former partner regarding a decision over a child, such as in the examples above, a PSO or an SIO can be made under section 8 of the Children Act 1989 using Form C100. You may also need to attend mediation (see below) before making the application unless there are exceptional circumstances, such as domestic violence. The Court will then schedule a hearing to consider your application. Once the application has been issued, the Court will list the matter for a first dispute resolution hearing appointment.

Anyone with parental responsibility can make an application to the Court. If you do not have parental responsibility, you must first seek the Court’s permission to apply.

Mediation Information and Assessment Meetings (MIAM)

Before submitting an application for a  child arrangements order, prohibited steps order or specific issues order, parents will be required to attend a MIAM (Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting) with a family mediator unless they are exempt. These meetings are aimed at resolving parental disputes through the mediation process. However, if, after attending this meeting, if mediation is unsuccessful or it is deemed that mediation is not appropriate, a MIAM certificate will be issued that allows the court order application process to continue.

What factors will the Court consider? 

The Court’s primary consideration is the welfare of the child. They will consider various factors, including the child’s wishes and feelings (depending on their age and maturity), the child’s physical, emotional, and educational needs, and any harm or risk of harm to the child.

Child Law disputes can be complex, so seeking early advice from a family law specialist is essential. Our Stevenage family lawyers will listen to your concerns, help you understand your legal rights, and ensure the correct procedures are followed to protect you and your children.

Can I apply for an Emergency Specific Issue or Prohibited Steps Order? 

Yes, in certain circumstances, it may be necessary to take urgent action to protect a child. Under section 8 of the Children Act 1989, an application may be made without notice (ex parte) to the other parent. It should be noted that an order will only be made in exceptional circumstances and based on solid evidence.

Parental Dispute Legal Advice in Stevenage 

We realise how distressing disputes regarding children can be, especially if you have concerns for their welfare. Tollers Child Law Solicitors in Stevenage can provide specialist advice and guidance on all child law matters or whether you need to apply to the courts for a Specific Issue or Prohibited Steps Order.

Our family solicitors aim to minimise conflict when dealing with your family matters. If you require assistance and want to look at ways of reducing conflict…Talk to Tollers on 01438 901095. Our experienced family team is on hand to guide you through and facilitate you.

Offices mentioned: Stevenage Office

People mentioned: Deborah Atkins

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