Prohibited Steps Order vs Specific Issue Order
As the school summer holidays approach, many separated parents will be looking forward to taking their children away on holiday. There will be some parents though who are concerned that their children may go on holiday with the other parent and either not return on the agreed date, or in the worst-case scenario, not at all. In the absence of reassurance from the other parent that the trip will end on the agreed date or in the face of a threat that the child may not be returned, then the only way to avoid a situation like this would be to make an application to the Court to stop the child from being removed from the country or to try and ensure that the child will be returned on the agreed date. These types of Orders are known as a Specific Issue Order and a Prohibited Steps Order.
A Specific Issue Order addresses situations where the parents cannot agree. The common examples of this are what school a child should go to, whether to change the child’s name and, in a growing theme, whether a child can go on holiday with the other parent. These types of orders are therefore essentially used to make something happen rather than prevent it. Therefore, should a situation arise where a parent wishes to take their child on holiday and that request is refused, it would be for the parent wishing to take the child on holiday to make the application for a Specific Issue Order to have the holiday occur.
A Prohibited Steps Order on the other hand, as the name suggests, is used to stop something from occurring. This can be to stop the removal of a child from the care of the other parent, or to stop the child from going abroad. It is always encouraged that the child is able to spend time with both of their parent’s whether this be going on holiday with one of them or spending regular time with the other parent. However, in respect of any potential holiday it is essential that the child is not going to be openly placed in harm’s way with a suggestion that they visit a country that is deemed to be unsafe to travel to by The Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office, or where there are concerns that if a child did not return from their holiday, that seeking their formal return could be problematic.
It is a non-exhaustive list as to what either a Specific Issue Order or Prohibited Steps Order could address, but the reality is when wanting these applications, the attempt to resolve matters has been unsuccessful so the only option available is to go to Court.
In light of what ever the issue is, timing must need to be considered. The timing of the application means it is usually dealt with on an urgent or immediate basis. So if any issues might be on the horizon it is always prudent to seek legal advice at the earliest opportunity.
To make either of these Orders you must show to the Court why it is in the child’s best interests to make the Order you are looking for. At Clarke and Son Solicitors we are here to help and guide you, with the aim of being able to achieve a positive outcome, whilst also ensuring that that outcome is in line with the child’s best interests.