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"An order that no step which could be taken by a parent in meeting his Parental Responsibility for a child, and which is of a kind specified in the order, shall be taken by any person without the consent of the court."

Introduction

Orders made under Section 8 of the Children Act 1989 may only apply to issues of Parental Responsibility, and cannot be applied to issues which concern only the adults in a case. The original Section 8 orders are:

· Prohibited Steps Orders

· Specific Issue Orders

· Contact Orders

· Residence Orders

Orders made to vary or discharge these orders also come under Section 8.

Once a child reaches the age of 16 any Section 8 order ceases to have effect, and the Court normally will not make new orders other than one to discharge an order. Under exceptional circumstances it can make orders for a child up to the age of 18; if it does the order will cease to have effect once the child reaches 18,

Section 10 of the Children Act determines who may apply for a Section 8 order. Sections 10(4) and (5) determine the categories of person who may apply as of right.

If you cannot apply as of right you may apply with ‘leave’, that is, with the permission of the Court, and Section 10(8) sets out what factors the Court should consider in such an application. These applications include those made by the child and 10(8) provides that the Court must be satisfied the child has sufficient understanding to make the application. Usually the initial judgement of the child’s understanding will be made by his solicitor, if he has one, but the discretion remains with the Court.

Prohibited Steps Orders

A Prohibited Steps Order (PSO) ‘means an order that no step which could be taken by a parent in meeting his Parental Responsibility for a child, and which is of a kind specified in the order, shall be taken by any person without the consent of the court’. They must not be applied to trivial issues, and their terms must be specific. Examples might include:

· Not to register a birth or name a child without the father;

· Not to change the child’s surname;

· Not to give the child inappropriate medical treatment;

· Not to enrol the child at a particular school;

· Not to indoctrinate the child into a particular religion;

· Not to go to a particular place the child frequents, such as his school or a club;

· Not to approach the child in the street;

· Not to remove the child from the care of a particular adult;

· Not to take the child abroad;

· Not to allow the child to participate in a particular activity or visit a particular person.

By interfering with Parental Responsibility, a Prohibited Steps Order can be seen by the Court, or presented by the person to whom it is to apply, as an attempt by the applicant to control the respondent and restrict his or her rights, and for that reason they may be difficult to obtain. If they cause a parent to live somewhere they cannot afford, or to lose out on a job, etc., they will not be seen by the Court to be in the child’s interest.

The Children Act also forbids a court to make a PSO in order to obtain a result which could also be achieved through a contact or residence order. Sooner or later the Court will have to make such an order and it is difficult to see what purpose a PSO can serve that would not be better served by an alternative one.

A PSO can be used to apply leverage, for example on a parent who is refusing to agree terms of another order, but they are only ever a temporary solution, and are not to be made where the same result could be achieved by an alternative order.

Applications are made using Form C100 and there will be a fee to pay of £200. You should always ask the Court to attach a penal notice to the order so that it can be enforced.