A mother will always have parental responsibility for their child and a father may gain parental responsibility by being registered as the father on the child’s birth certificate, by marrying the mother, or by way of agreement or Court Order.

When both parents have parental responsibility but one parent wants to do something that is not agreed by the other, for example take a child on holiday abroad, it may become necessary to make an application to the Court for a decision. The decision must be determined by what is in the child’s best interests, with a focus on their welfare being of paramount importance.

Both Specific Issue and Prohibited Steps Orders can be applied for on their own, or at the same time as a Child Arrangements Order. If utilising one form then both applications are covered by the same Court fee.

Specific Issue Order application.

A Specific Issue Order is an application to have the other parent carry out an action, such as returning the child to their care, or to seek permission of the Court to enable them to do something, such as to relocate with the child or to change a child’s surname.

Prohibited Steps Order application.

A Prohibited Steps Order can prevent the other parent from doing something which they are able to do when exercising Parental Responsibility. Common examples include stopping a parent removing a child from the other parent’s care, preventing a child travelling abroad without the other parent’s permission, or preventing one parent changing the child’s school without the other parent’s input and permission.

The “No Order principle” means that where possible, parents should make the decisions about their children. However, what each parent thinks is best for their child is not always mutually accepted. Similarly, parents are expected to promote each other in having an important role to play in their child’s future, irrespective of who left the relationship or how they personally may feel about their former partner. The law presumes that both parents will play an important role in their child’s upbringing, unless there is very good reason to the contrary. The emphasis remains what is best for the child.

If you would like further information and advice with regard to such issues, please do not hesitate to contact Miss Annette Lowen in the Children Department whereby a fixed fee appointment can be arranged to discuss matters. The matters discussed and advice given will then be recorded in an Attendance Note for you to retain.

Please contact Annette Lowen via the contact form below or by phone on 01702 662963 (Essex)  020 35537115 (London).