What is a Prohibited Steps Order?

by Kidd Rapinet on April 16, 2024
Children laughing and playing in the rain

A Prohibited Steps Order (PSO) is a legally binding order that prohibits a parent or guardian from taking certain actions concerning a child without the court’s permission. These actions could range from changing the child’s surname, relocating the child, or making important medical decisions without consulting the other person with parental responsibility.

If you are concerned, you should consider applying for a PSO. The following people have an automatic right to apply for a PSO in relation to a child:

  • Any parent, guardian or special guardian of the child
  • Anyone who is named in a Child Arrangements Order which is in force in respect to that child, which states that the child is to live with them
  • Anyone else who holds parental responsibility for the child

If you fall outside of the above categories, you will firstly need to apply for permission from the court before applying for a PSO.

When Might You Need a Prohibited Steps Order?

  • Preventing Relocation: If one parent intends to relocate with the child, the other parent might seek a PSO to prevent this.
  • Changing Schools: If one parent intends to change or remove a child from school, a PSO can prevent this.
  • Protecting from Harm: In cases where there are concerns about the child’s safety or welfare, such as exposure to harmful individuals or environments, a PSO can restrict contact or prevent specific activities.
  • Educational and Medical Decisions: When disagreements arise between parents regarding the child’s education or medical treatment, a PSO can ensure that significant decisions are made jointly or with court approval.

How to Obtain a Prohibited Steps Order:

  1. Seek Legal Advice: Consult with a family law solicitor who can assess your situation and advise on the best course of action.
  2. Attempt Mediation: Before escalating the matter to court, attempt mediation to resolve disputes amicably. If mediation fails or is not appropriate, proceed to the next step.
  3. Submit an Application to a Family Court local to where the child lives: outlining the reasons for seeking the PSO and any evidence supporting your case.
  4. Attend Court Hearings: Both parties will attend court hearings where the judge will consider the evidence presented and make a decision. When considering a PSO, the Courts will look at many things before making an order. The most important consideration is the welfare and interest of the child who is the subject of the PSO.
  5. Comply with Court Orders: If the PSO is granted, both parties must comply with its terms. Failure to do so can result in legal consequences. A PSO will usually last for a specified period of time which the Court orders, for example, 6 months or 12 months. However, the orders can also last until a certain event occurs for example, a child may not be taken out of the school they are attending until they complete their education. It is not possible for a PSO to remain in place after a child’s 18th birthday, as they are then considered as an adult in the eyes of the law.

Failure to comply with a PSO when issued can be viewed as contempt of court, and serious consequences can be encountered. The respondent could face a fine or in extreme cases imprisonment.

This article was brought to you by Kidd Rapinet’s family solicitors. You can book an appointment with any of the family lawyers across our other offices in Aylesbury, Canary Wharf, Farnham, High Wycombe, Maidenhead or Slough, using the form provided.  Please use the links provided to find more information on divorce or separation, child arrangements and other areas of family law.

These materials and content have been prepared for the benefit of their viewers/readers. They are intended for marketing purposes only and are of a general nature and do not constitute legal advice applicable to any particular facts or circumstances. Kidd Rapinet LLP and/or the author(s) accept no duty of care, responsibility or liability for any loss or damage which you or any third party may suffer as a result of any reliance or use by you or them of these marketing materials and content, except to the extent it is not legally possible to exclude such liability. If you require legal advice on your own situation, please contact us so we can discuss how we may assist

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