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Understanding Specific Issues Orders
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Understanding Specific Issues Orders

A specific issues order (SIO) is made under section 8 of the Children Act 1989

A specific issues order gives directions for determining a specific question that has arisen, or that may arise, in connection with any aspect of parental responsibility for a child.

The areas of parental responsibility where issues may occur are:

providing a home for the child

protecting and maintaining the child

disciplining the child

choosing and providing for the child’s education

agreeing to the child’s medical treatment

naming the child and agreeing to any change of name

looking after the child’s property

Examples of applications under specific issues could be:

Which school a child should attend.

Whether the child should have medical treatment.

What religion the child should be identified with.

Whether the surename of the child should be changed.

A specific issues order should not be made:

Where a child has attained the age of 16 years and should not have affect beyond the age of 16 unless there are exceptional circumstances in which case it concludes when the childs attaines the age of 18 years.

Where the child is in the care of the local authority.

Where it in any way denies to the High Court the exercise of its inherent jurisdiction with respect to children.

Where the matter could be more appropriately dealt with by a Child Arrangements order.

That the matter being considered is not in relation to a Parental Responsibility issue.

Considerations by the court.

The primary consideration of the court is that of the welfare of children. The paramount interests of the children are paramount when any orders are made.

The Child Welfare Checklist.

In making an order, the court must give full regard to the factors of the Child Welfare Checklist. The court must also be satisfied that it would be better and in the best interests of the child to make an order than not.

What if my application is urgent?

In exceptional circumstances, an application can be made urgently and without notice. This means that the other party is not notified about the hearing (Ex Parte). There needs to be strong evidence to support the application. At the urgent hearing, a temporary order may be considered and served on the other party. Both parties will be required to attend a further hearing for directions, and if contested, a tiral date would be set.

What if the Specific Issuess Order is breached?

Where a specific issues order has been breached, an application can be made for committal for contempt of court. The order must:

1) Have been endorsed with a 'Penal Notice'.

2) It must in clear terms outline what the defendant must / must not do.

3) Be time specific, i.e have clear times outlining the period when the act must not be done.

4) Must not be ambiguous.

5) The order must have been served ont e defendant.

The court will apply the criminal standard of proof of 'beyond reasonable doubt' to deterime whether the order has knowingly been broken.