What is a Prohibited Steps Order in Family Law?

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What is a Prohibited Steps Order?

A Prohibited Steps Order (PSO) is a type of court order made under the Children Act 1989 to prevent a parent from taking certain actions with regards to their child or children without the other parent’s consent or permission. The actions prohibited by a PSO can vary depending on the specific circumstances of the case but commonly include removing a child from the country, changing a child’s surname, or enrolling them in a new school.

A PSO can be obtained by a parent or any other person with parental responsibility for the child, and the family court can make a PSO if it believes it is necessary in the interests the child’s welfare. PSOs are typically used when there are concerns about a child’s safety or well-being, such as in cases of child abduction, domestic abuse, domestic violence or parental alienation.

It is important to note that a PSO is a serious matter and should not be used lightly. It is typically only used as a last resort when other methods of resolving the dispute have failed. A PSO is also a temporary measure and does not resolve the underlying issues between the parties, which may need to be addressed through other legal processes.

A Prohibited Steps Order is not the same as a Child Arrangements Order as both types of order serve different purposes, but they can be used together, and alongside orders, such as Specific Issue Orders as part of a wider range of legal measures to protect a child’s welfare

Can a Prohibited Steps Order prevent a parent having contact with their child?

Yes, a Prohibited Steps Order can prevent a child from having contact with a parent if the court considers it necessary to do so in the best interests of the child. A PSO is a court order that prohibits a specific action being taken with regards to a child, and the actions prohibited by a PSO can vary depending on the specific circumstances of the case.

In cases where there are concerns about the safety and well-being of the child, the court may make a PSO to prohibit a parent from having unsupervised contact with the child, or to require that any contact between the parent and child be supervised. The court may also make other orders, such as Non-Molestation Orders and Occupation Orders, to address the effects of domestic abuse or other forms of harm.

How to obtain a Prohibited Steps Order

A Prohibited Steps Order can be obtained through the family court in England and Wales. The process of obtaining a PSO typically involves the following steps:

  1. Application for a Prohibited Steps Order: A parent or any person with parental responsibility for the child can apply for a Prohibited Steps Order. The application can be made on the form C100 and should be accompanied by a statement setting out the reasons for the request.
  2. Court proceedings: If the court considers the application to be urgent, a court hearing may be held on the same day or within a few days of the application being made. If the case is not considered to be urgent, a hearing may be scheduled for a later date.
  3. Evidence: The person applying for the PSO must provide evidence to support their case, such as any relevant witness statements or documentation.
  4. Court decision: The court will consider the evidence and arguments presented by both sides and make a decision based on what it considers to be in the best interests of the child.

It’s important to note that the process of obtaining a PSO can be complex, and it’s advisable to seek legal advice to ensure that the application is properly prepared and presented. Additionally, the court’s decision may be subject to appeal, so it’s important to be aware of the potential implications of the process.

How long is the Order valid?

The length of a Prohibited Steps Order varies and depends on the specific circumstances of each case. PSOs can be made for a specified period of time, or they can be made indefinitely until further order of the court.

In most cases, a PSO will be reviewed by the court after a certain period of time, to assess whether it is still necessary and in the best interests of the child. If the circumstances have changed, and the PSO is no longer necessary, the court may vary or discharge the PSO.

In general, once a child reaches the age of 16 years, they are considered to have sufficient capacity to make their own decisions about the actions that are prohibited by the PSO. However, this may vary depending on the specific circumstances of the case and the nature of the PSO.

It’s important to note that, even if a child reaches the age of 16, the court may still consider it necessary to make orders in their best interests.

How can Expert Family Law assist?

We understand that disputes involving children and their care can be incredibly complex and sensitive. The solicitors on our panel can provide you with the best advice and assistance on resolving child arrangement disputes and obtaining a Prohibited Steps Order from the Court if the dispute cannot be resolved between the parents or through the process of mediation.

As well as assisting with child arrangements, our panel of family law solicitors can also advise and assist on the process of divorce and the division of assets following the breakdown of a marriage or civil partnership (ancillary relief).

We ensure that the family law solicitors on our panel have the skills and experience required to assist on your legal case. We can assure you that your case will be dealt with in a compassionate and understanding manner.

Get in touch today using the form at the top of the page to find out if a child arrangement solicitor from our panel could help on your case.


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