Section 91(14) – when the courts say enough is enough

When considering applications for a child arrangements order, often relating to contact or a specific issue such as changing a child’s name, the court has the authority direct that no further applications can be made by the applicant party with the court’s prior permission under section 91(14) of the Children Act 1989.

These “section 91(14) orders” are made when there have been repeated and protracted Children Act proceedings and the court feel that it would be in the best interests of the child to take a break from further proceedings. The section 91(14) orders are generally made with a time limit and make clear the nature of the applications that are to be restricted. This ensures that applications that fall into these categories are scrutinised before the respondent and the child become involved. The court can therefore limit the harm, both financial and emotional, that may be caused if the application were to be issued without the court’s prior permission.

There is no statutory guidance on what factors are to be considered by the court in directing that a section 91(14) order is made, although some guidance was given by the Court of appeal in the landmark case of Re: P [ 1999]. These guidelines indicate the child’s welfare should remain paramount throughout and that the making of such section 91(14) orders should be the exception rather than the rule, treating these types of order as a weapon of last resort.

In matters relating to your children, it is important that you get legal advice early on in, so that you are fully aware of the options available to you. Speak to one of our specialist family solicitors, who can provide you with a free initial consultation and enable you to consider your options. Serving Bedford, Northampton and Milton Keynes, our lawyers can help you with your family law and divorce matters.  Contact us on 01234 889777 for more information.

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