Home > The Court Process > Specific Issue Orders

Specific Issue Orders

By: Lorna Elliott LLB (hons), Barrister - Updated: 3 May 2018 |
 
Specific Issue Order Court Child Family

Specific Issue Orders, much like the name suggests, are orders sought from the family court to determine a particular matter in connection with the exercise of Parental Responsibility. These orders can cover a wide range of issues that you and your ex-partner cannot agree on, such as:

        
  • Whether your child or children should change their name(s)
  • Decisions pertaining to their education
  • Whether they should have a particular medical treatment or operation
  • Whether they should receive religious or non-religious education
  • Taking the child to live abroad on a permanent basis
  • Preventing someone from having contact with your child

What the Court Will Do

As in all cases, the court’s main concern is the welfare of the child in question. The court will always put the child’s best interests first and this main issue will determine the outcome of any application for an order. Applications for a Specific Issue Order are heard before a judge and a representative from Cafcass (Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Services Officer), who is a qualified social worker. In the first instance, this meeting will endeavour to reach an agreement between the parents as to how to determine the issue. This needs the consent of both parents, which can often be impossible if there have been allegations of domestic violence.

Court's Discretion to Make Order of its Own Volition

It is important to note that a magistrate or judge may make a Specific Issue Order of their own volition. This is generally in situations in which the judge is satisfied that there is a risk that the parent in question may go ahead with a particular course of action without seeking the other’s consent. In other circumstances, and only if there are grounds to do so, the judge or magistrate may make a Specific Issue Order if the responsible parent is acting in an inappropriate way. This could relate to, for example, taking the child to places that are not deemed suitable for children, or leaving them in the care of a person who is unsuitable for childcare.

Directions For Hearing

If this meeting does not prove productive, the parents and the Cafcass officer, along with any solicitors representing either party, go before the District Judge or magistrates in order to obtain directions for a trial. Usually both parents submit witness statements, and the Cafcass officer (which could be the same person as before, but not necessarily) will then interview both parents and prepare a report. If possible, the Cafcass officer should see the child in the company of each of the parents.

Full Hearing

If the case then goes to a final hearing, each parent will give evidence in the Family Court and will be asked questions under oath by the opposing side. It is commonplace for the Cafcass officer’s report to settle matters before the final hearing happens and it is quite rare for a judge to find against the recommendations made in the report. If this happens, the judge must provide reasons for doing so. If the judge has made an error of law in coming to this decision, you can challenge the decision by way of judicial review. This is a complicated legal procedure, however, and you should always seek legal advice before embarking on such a claim. For more information, see the page on www.CourtroomAdvice.co.uk.

Check out the Separated Dads Forum... It's a great resource where you can ask for advice on topics including Child Access, Maintenance, CAFCASS, Fathers Rights, Court, Behaviour or simply to have a chat with other dads.

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[Add a Comment]
Hi there Please i laready have cintact order in place to see my son once every two weeks. Unfortunately i am never involved in any decision on his education or anything else. I intend to apply for a 'specific issue order' so that any decidion on his education has to involve me, not just his mother and her new boyfriend. Can i still apply for this order, despite having a contact order? Your help is very much appreciated. Thanks in advance
Idi - 3-May-18 @ 5:13 PM
QuickQuestion - Your Question:
I attended an urgent specific issue hearing on Friday in family court regarding which school my two children should attend. My ex and I have to accept offers made by the end of the month and decided to race to court when we did not agree on schools. At no time was CAFCASS involved in considering the best interests of the children, one of whom is 7.5 and is happy to speak for herself about which school she would like to attend. Isn't it required that CAFCASS be a part of this process and the hearing? I don't understand its absence. Any chances that I might get permission to appeal the decision due to lack of CAFCASS's involvement in considering the best interests of the children?

Our Response:
Cafcass only becomes involved in a case at the court's request/when the court feels it needs to.
SeparatedDads - 23-Apr-18 @ 10:39 AM
I attended an urgent specific issue hearing on Friday in family court regarding which school my two children should attend.My ex and I have to accept offers made by the end of the month and decided to race to court when we did not agree on schools. At no time was CAFCASS involved in considering the best interests of the children, one of whom is 7.5 and is happy to speak for herself about which school she would like to attend.Isn't it required that CAFCASS be a part of this process and the hearing?I don't understand its absence.Any chances that I might get permission to appeal the decision due to lack of CAFCASS's involvement in considering the best interests of the children?
QuickQuestion - 22-Apr-18 @ 2:38 PM
Hi, I wonder if anyone can provide any assistance to my ongoing case (s). I have represented myself at the initial FHDRA hearing regarding contact arrangements, and have today raised a separate Specific Issue Order Application for a dispute over schooling. My ex partner has essentially changed school preferences behind my back. I have PR. I also have evidence that the decision to change schools was ill thought and not in the LO best interests - gone from Ofsted outstanding to another school with lesser accreditation. I have a letter from my ex partner (when we were on good terms) as part of the initial school application to the first choice school, this praised the school on every level. This was also the only school we visited. My ex partner changed schools after the deadline citing lies such as welfare issues as an exceptional circumstances to change. This all contradicts to what she told Cafcass after changing school saying I was a good dad and there were no welfare issues. Anyway, I am fighting to secure a place in the first preference school we agreed on when we were on good terms. It will be going to a directions hearing next week before the school appeals window closes. Does anyone have any advise on a school dispute? Will I need legal representation at the directions hearing to put across the important education points and to reveal her lies regarding her decisions to change schools behind my back? Is the Judge at the directions hearing able to stamp an Order given this is time sensitive if I can prove the decision to move schools was not in the LO best interests? Or would this dispute have to go to a final hearing at which time the schools appeal window would be closed! I was not impressed with the female magistrates at the recent FHDRA and feel they came across biased. I have asked to request a DJ at future hearings. Any assistance will be grateful. Hope all this makes sense.
Mike - 20-Apr-18 @ 1:53 PM
Golden eyes - Your Question:
Hi maybe someone could help me my ex still married left the house with my daughter know I am asking to have 2 to 3 days she keep saying that no and demand that I must do what she wants if she says that I need to pick upy daughter at 10 and bring back at 12.30 I must do !well I do not agree with that because all I want is spend days with my daughter.I feel that she is using my daughter, because we are still trying to agree about how much money I should give to her for my kid.I never said I do not give I just said let's seat and talk but she keep changing the omelette can I get and order to make her let me see my daughter or do the law just protect this kind off people that only look for the money?please a little help will be good

Our Response:
The link here and here , which will tell you all you need to do in order to try to regain access.
SeparatedDads - 9-Apr-18 @ 2:55 PM
Hi maybe someone could help me my ex still married left the house with my daughter know I am asking to have 2 to 3 days she keep saying that no and demand that I must do what she wants if she says that I need to pick upy daughter at 10 and bring back at 12.30 I must do !well I do not agree with that because all I want is spend days with my daughter.I feel that she is usingmy daughter, because we are still trying to agree about how much money I should give to her for my kid.I never said I do not give I just said let's seat and talk but she keep changing the omelette can I get and order to make her let me see my daughter or do the law just protect this kind off people that only look for the money?please a little help will be good
Golden eyes - 8-Apr-18 @ 10:36 PM
Hi guys I'm wondering if you may be able to offer some advise? I need to obtain a specific issue order, I'm aware that one will not be issued until me and my ex wife have attended mediation. The problem is I'm an American air force service member and she is British and since our divorce I have moved back to the United States on orders. My ex wife was recently (June 2016) incarcerated on repeat driving offences for 6 weeks and upon release was given 18 months probation. One of thestipulatuons of the pobation was she was not to leave the country and I have recently found out she is in the USA and was here on the grounds of looking for work to move here with a current partner and therefore move my son with her. My son is currently living with his maternal grandmother five days a week as she has no fixed abode. Her mother has been in contact with me as she is sure that my ex wife upon her return to the UK on the 7th February 2017 plans to take my son and leave the country. I have been in contact with social services as has her mother and their advise was to call 101 and get a lawyer which we have done but being in another country I'm very limited as to what I can physically do. Is there anyway what so ever I can obtain some sort of emergency custody order either myself or my sons grandmother to prevent this from happening? Thank you Jacob Garcia
Jake - 3-Feb-18 @ 11:56 PM
Stu - Your Question:
Dear Separated Fathers, would you mind posting this one on your facebook forum? After 2 ½ years of issues between myself and my ex-wife, she has now denied me access due to making sweeping unfounded statements and allegations until we go to mediation… I havent seen my girls for 10 weeks now and I’m simply wanting to go to court for a contact order because she is an impossible woman… can you guys provide any advice on representing myself and what to expect when I submit my C100 form, timescales, costs… etc etc I can’t afford a solicitor, but I can put a good case together with character references and a 20 page timeline of nightmare events since May 17.

Our Response:
It is unlikely you would be allowed to apply to court unless you have attended mediation first, as court will request this. I have posted your comment on our Facebook page. We hope it helps.
SeparatedDads - 15-Dec-17 @ 9:56 AM
Dear Separated Fathers, would you mind posting this one on your facebook forum?After 2 ½ years of issues between myself and my ex-wife, she has now denied me access due to making sweeping unfounded statements and allegations until we go to mediation… i havent seen my girls for 10 weeks now and I’m simply wanting to go to court for a contact order because she is an impossible woman…can you guys provide any advice on representing myself and what to expect when I submit my C100 form, timescales, costs…etc etc I can’t afford a solicitor,but I can put a good case together with character references and a 20 page timeline of nightmare events since May 17.
Stu - 14-Dec-17 @ 9:26 AM
@Msrk - you can't apply for a court order until you've attended mediation first to try and sort your problems out.
MNc - 12-Dec-17 @ 3:12 PM
The non-residencial parent has encouraged me to punish our child for making up lies about having a brother to avoid being caught as a cheat for 1.5years. Took our child in non-residencial care instead of telling the truth, however was found out after 9weeks. Then proceeded to speak fouly of the residencial parent from 2012-present day causing emotional harm which lead to behaviour problems and play theorapy. Then the non residential parent then suggested that the residential parent me had been abusing our child and gave misinformation about the care the residential parent was giving which lead to an investigation that lead to exceptional distress to the child and residential parent who faced trauma because of it. The residential parent changed the school of our child and minimised the contact to safeguard, however threats are being made to discover the new school and adult child boundaries are being crossed by the non-residencial parent who is discussing contact arrangments, sharing intimate health details and complaining to our child which is still causing harm to the health but due to the sibling relationship this is the reason contact is being maintained on a minimal level. However the residencial parent, me, would like to proceed with an order to prevent commication with the school and medical practices and certain adult child discussions. Does anyone have advice on this, what order should be made, or advise on what way could this be addressed
Msrk - 12-Dec-17 @ 11:23 AM
@Hague T Yes I do understand that she is being protective (from our conversations I can tell this is all it is, no other issue), and I have felt the same when she goes back home with our daughter and I cannot go with them. I think all parents will have this feeling - maybe women more so. However, there is no risk to me taking my daughter (I am not going to remain in Australia), it is to attend a family wedding (so not a travelling on a whim), and it would mean a lot for my family to have both of us there. I just feel rather betrayed that on at least 10 occasions I have been very happy for her to go to see her family without me and take our daughter out of the country, this is the first time I would like to do this and she is trying to block this. I am trying to get her to calm down and be little more rational about the situation. I agree that going to court would be the end of the marriage - however having one set of rules for her traveling with our children and another for me will also create a mess - obviously not a divorce - but I don't think that this is a reasonable expectation. Thanks for your response, I appreciate some outside perspective.
Ray - 25-Oct-17 @ 2:13 PM
@Hague T Yes I do understand that she is being protective (from our conversations I can tell this is all it is, no other issue), and I have felt the same when she goes back home with our daughter and I cannot go with them. I think all parents will have this feeling - maybe women more so. However, there is no risk to me taking my daughter (I am not going to remain in Australia), it is to attend a family wedding (so not a travelling on a whim), and it would mean a lot for my family to have both of us there. I just feel rather betrayed that on at least 10 occasions I have been very happy for her to go to see her family without me and take our daughter out of the country, this is the first time I would like to do this and she is trying to block this. I am trying to get her to calm down and be little more rational about the situation. I agree that going to court would be the end of the marriage - however having one set of rules for her traveling with our children and another for me will also create a mess - obviously not a divorce - but I don't think that this is a reasonable expectation. Thanks for your response, I appreciate some outside perspective.
Ray - 25-Oct-17 @ 11:32 AM
@Hague T Yes I do understand that she is being protective (from our conversations I can tell this is all it is, no other issue), and I have felt the same when she goes back home with our daughter and I cannot go with them. I think all parents will have this feeling - maybe women more so. However, there is no risk to me taking my daughter (I am not going to remain in Australia), it is to attend a family wedding (so not a travelling on a whim), and it would mean a lot for my family to have both of us there. I just feel rather betrayed that on at least 10 occasions I have been very happy for her to go to see her family without me and take our daughter out of the country, this is the first time I would like to do this and she is trying to block this. I am trying to get her to calm down and be little more rational about the situation. I agree that going to court would be the end of the marriage - however having one set of rules for her traveling with our children and another for me will also create a mess - obviously not a divorce - but I don't think that this is a reasonable expectation. Thanks for your response, I appreciate some outside perspective.
Ray - 25-Oct-17 @ 10:34 AM
@Ray - I don't think it would help your marriage if you apply for a specific issue order as it would mean taking your wife to court which would be stressful all round to say the least. You could try mediation which you would have to try anyway before being allowed through the court process. You can kind of understand why your wife doesn't want you to take your child out of the country to Australia- it's that motherly protective thing - it doesn't have to be rational. I'm a bloke and I can see why she might be a bit nervous.
HagueT - 20-Oct-17 @ 10:49 AM
Hi, I am married, no separated or divorced. I would like to take my daughter (18 months) to Australia to attend a family wedding. Due to work commitments my wife cannot attend and is refusing to let me take our daughter. She cannot provide a solid reason other than the flight is too long for our daughter (18hrs - not really a problem). I have previously allowed my wife to take our daughter out of the UK to visit her family and have always given my fullest consent and helped with travel. What are my options? Can I get an SIO even though were are married? It is really a horrible issue and I see this as really destabilising our marriage whichever way it goes. Thanks,
Ray - 19-Oct-17 @ 1:28 PM
My original post 24th July. She took one child to Scotland that day, without my permission and after I advised her not to as it would be breaking the order and I would take her back to court. They returned two days ago and I finally got to see my child today. I applied to the courts for a breach of court order and have been called back in a months time. Hoping there will be a punishment of some kind as she has been breaking the order in regards to spending time with our child who lives with me and regularly getting her hopes up and letting her down.
Anon - 4-Aug-17 @ 11:57 AM
Jon - Your Question:
Hi I have been having some issues surrounding my daughter's passport with my separated wife. I have been refusing to give my ex my daughters passport passport over concern that you might take to Poland. However, my ex applied for a renewed passport and got one and took my daughter to Poland without telling me. She did come back with daughter. After contacting the passport office, my daughter new passport was not checked properly as I was the original person to apply for the first one. So her passport was cancelled. My separated wife said she's going to take me to court as what to have the passport. On a few occasions she said to me if things don't work out here I will go back to Poland and if it does not work out with brexit she will go back with my child. What you I do if takes me to court to stop her? Any advice would be appreciated

Our Response:
Your ex has the right to apply to take you to court if she wishes to leave the country with your child, whether for a holiday or long term. You can see more via the link: Can I Stop My Ex Moving Our Children Abroad? here . However, if you feel your ex may take the children at any point without your consent, you can apply for a Prohibited Steps Order. A PSO is an order granted by the court in family cases which prevents either parent from carrying out certain events or making specific trips with their children without the express permission of the other parent. This is more common in cases where there is suspicion that one parent may leave the area with their children. We have all heard the stories of a parent taking their child for the weekend and not returning them or going abroad with them and it becoming extremely difficult for the other parent to get their child back. Thankfully, this is one of the scenarios that a PSO seeks to prevent. As in all cases, the court’s main concern is the welfare of the child in question. The court will always put the child’s best interests first and this main issue will determine the outcome of any application for an order, whether you apply for it, or whether your ex does. You would have to prove why it was in your child's best interests to stay in the UK, whether that is family ties, education and your relationship with your child. However, your ex also has a right to move on with her life and if she can justify her reasons for wanting to move andifthe court thinks it is in your child's best interests then it will take this into consideration also.
SeparatedDads - 27-Jul-17 @ 12:15 PM
ANON22 - Your Question:
Can you apply for an urgent child arrangements order and a child arrangements order going forward at the same time? Mother disputing holiday previously agreed with father so urgent application being made in respect to this but also want to apply for child arrangements order to ensure that access continues to be given and mother does not stop father seeing child in the future.

Our Response:
Much depends upon the circumstances. You may wish to seek legal advice regarding this. Usually a child arrangement order for access is made only when access is denied and the resident parent refuses to attend mediation in order to try to resolve the issue out of court, please see link here.
SeparatedDads - 27-Jul-17 @ 10:10 AM
Hi I have been having some issues surrounding my daughter's passport with my separated wife. I have been refusing to give my ex my daughters passport passport over concern that you might taketo Poland. However, my ex applied for a renewed passport and got one and took my daughter to Poland without telling me. She did come back with daughter. After contacting the passport office, my daughter new passport was not checked properly as I was the original person to apply for the first one. So her passport was cancelled. My separated wife said she's going to take me to court as what to have the passport. On a few occasions she said to me if things don't work out here I will go back to Poland and if it does not work out with brexit she will go back with my child. What you I do if takes me to court to stop her? Any advice would be appreciated
Jon - 25-Jul-17 @ 5:01 PM
Can you apply for an urgent child arrangements order and a child arrangements order going forward at the same time? Mother disputing holiday previously agreed with father so urgent application being made in respect to this but also want to apply for child arrangements order to ensure that access continues to be given and mother does not stop father seeing child in the future.
ANON22 - 25-Jul-17 @ 10:51 AM
Anon - Your Question:
We have a child arrangements, prohibited steps order and specific issue order here which states as one of the court orders that neither parent can take either child out of the jurisdiction of England or Wales without permission from the court. The mother is taking one child to Scotland for an unknown period of time. She has highlighted a part of the paperwork which is generic on all the paperwork which states on the warning that it doesn't prevent the removal of the children for less than one month. I have been informed that the PSO overrides this bold generic part but she is still taking her. Is court on Monday my only option now?

Our Response:
You don't say when your ex plans on going, but you may not be able to get a hearing in time. You might wish to check with your solicitor what part of the order stands. Your solicitor could send a letter reminding your ex of the obligations of the court order and the repercussions if she breaches the order.
SeparatedDads - 24-Jul-17 @ 10:26 AM
We have a child arrangements, prohibited steps order and specific issue order here which states as one of the court orders that neither parent can take either child out of the jurisdiction of England or Wales without permission from the court. The mother is taking one child to Scotland for an unknown period of time. She has highlighted a part of the paperwork which is generic on all the paperwork which states on the warning that it doesn't prevent the removal of the children for less than one month. I have been informed that the PSO overrides this bold generic part but she is still taking her. Is court on Monday my only option now?
Anon - 21-Jul-17 @ 5:16 PM
Peach - Your Question:
Hi. My partners ex has been nothing but trouble since we got together. She makes everything difficult and clearly out of jealousy and bitterness. Our own baby is due in 5 weeks making us 1 family. Next year we want to book a family holiday to Florida and she's already been telling him 'you can't go with dad, somebody will steal you' just to scare him. Luckily he has his last name too. We've booked a caravan too at the new year. She had him last new year and this new year she's refusing to let us take him. She's a permanent hitler. What can we do?

Our Response:
As specified in the article, your partner's only recourse is to suggest mediation or if your partner's ex refuses, take the matter to court via a Specific Issue Order. The most important thing is to leave enough time for the case to be heard (which if the first break is not until new year, then your partner has plenty of time). However, even if an order is put in place, your partner's ex can still play awkward by coming up with an excuse nearer the time. In a case where a parent is taking a child away, it is very difficult to enforce after the event. Therefore, your partner may wish to seek some legal advice. I empathise, this can be extremely frustrating for a parent who wants to spend quality time with their kids, but who is thwarted at every attempt.
SeparatedDads - 21-Jul-17 @ 2:00 PM
Hi. My partners ex has been nothing but trouble since we got together. She makes everything difficult and clearly out of jealousy and bitterness. Our own baby is due in 5 weeks making us 1 family. Next year we want to book a family holiday to Florida and she's already been telling him 'you can't go with dad, somebody will steal you' just to scare him. Luckily he has his last name too. We've booked a caravan too at the new year. She had him last new year and this new year she's refusing to let us take him. She's a permanent hitler. What can we do?
Peach - 21-Jul-17 @ 4:59 AM
Sharky1712 - Your Question:
My fiance took my 3 young daughters aged 6 months,18months and 4 yrs of age last week and I know believe that she has told so many lies to authorities and has been moved into a hostel.She has now completely deleted her social media account and changed her phone number so nobidy can get In touch with her.I am on the children's birth certificate and do have PR but nobody is willing to help me gain access to my children.I have no idea why she's done this and as you can probably guess I'm at my whits end with worry, so much so that it's made me very ill. I'm led to believe that if she has been moved into a hostel or refuse then she would've been told to have no contact with anybody , but I know my fiance and this just isn't her ,, we had a loving relationship and I just can't understand why she would do this to me or just stop my children from.having contact with me.Can someone please help me with any advice as my fiance and chikdren mean everything to me.

Our Response:
Your only recourse would be to apply to court for access to your children. As well as filling in a C100 contact form, you would have to fill in a C4 form. This is an application for an order for disclosure of a child’s whereabouts and will allow the court to put a trace on your children in order for you to be able to bring the matter to court.
SeparatedDads - 7-Jul-17 @ 2:05 PM
My fiance took my 3 young daughters aged 6 months,18months and 4 yrs of age last week and I know believe that she has told so many lies to authorities and has been moved into a hostel. She has now completely deleted her social media account and changed her phone number so nobidy can get In touch with her. I am on the children's birth certificateand do have PRbut nobody is willing to help me gain access to my children. I have no idea why she's done this and as you can probably guess I'm at my whits end with worry, so much so that it's made me very ill. I'm led to believe that if she has been moved into a hostel or refuse then she would've been told to have no contact with anybody , but I know my fiance and this just isn't her ,, we had a loving relationship and I just can't understand why she would do this to me or just stop my childrenfrom.having contact with me. Can someone please help me with any advice as my fiance and chikdren mean everything to me .
Sharky1712 - 30-Jun-17 @ 5:19 PM
lobo - Your Question:
Hi there, My son has my name on birth certificate and I have PR. Since he was born his mum has been very difficult and it has significantly affected my child. When he was 8 I agreed (against my better judgment) to change his surname to hers as she was pressuring him and I was trying to think of his needs. The verbal agreement between us and my son was that she would agree to change back to mine if she got married. One year ago he had the second section 47 filed against her and I now have court arrangement order. He stays with me full time and mum is supposed to see him 3 hours a week but hasn't for a month as son won't see her. She has also since got married and has different surname. My son wants to be called my name (he is now 11) as he now has a different surname to both his parents! She is refusing to change despite agreeing by txt in January! Where do I stand if I go to court will they side with me? Thanks

Our Response:
The courts will usually opt for family uniformity. Now your child is aged 11, he will also be asked his opinion. The court will decide what it thinks is in your child's best interests, I don't imagine you will have a problem. It's just a shame it has to go to court.
SeparatedDads - 29-Jun-17 @ 4:08 PM
Hi there, My son has my name on birth certificate and I have PR. Since he was born his mum has been very difficult and it has significantly affected my child. When he was 8 I agreed (against my better judgment) to change his surname to hers as she was pressuring him and I was trying to think of his needs . The verbal agreement between us and my son was that she would agree to change back to mine if she got married.One year ago he had the second section 47 filed against her and I now have court arrangement order. He stays with me full time and mum is supposed to see him 3 hours a week but hasn't for a month as son won't see her. She has also since got married and has different surname. My son wants to be called my name (he is now 11) as he now has a different surname to both his parents! She is refusing to change despite agreeing by txt in January! Where do I stand if I go to court will they side with me? Thanks
lobo - 28-Jun-17 @ 7:37 PM
Dolly29 - Your Question:
My dad has booked a surprise holiday for the family, but my child's dad won't give permission to go as he wanted to take him in the next year or two, he's a aggressive guy An I don't know what to do, can he stop me from taking him away just through jealousy? As soon as I found out about it I told him, he doesn't pay maintenance An we don't have set days through out the holidays. Can you help please

Our Response:
You must get the permission of everyone with parental responsibility for a child or from a court before taking the child abroad, here.
SeparatedDads - 23-Jun-17 @ 2:13 PM
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