What is a Prohibited Steps Order?

A prohibited steps order (a PSO) is an order that prevents a certain type of action from taking place.

In Family cases it is usually applied for by one parent against the other parent, but it can be made against anyone even if that person does not hold parental responsibility for the child and can be made against an individual who is not even a party to the proceedings.

A PSO can deal with a very wide range of issues. Typical examples include to prevent a parent from removing a child from the country or from moving home to another part of the UK. It can be used to prevent the removal of a child from its main home or residence, from the care of the other parent or perhaps, anyone to whom that parent has entrusted a child’s care (for example a Grandparent, or from the child’s school or nursery). It can also be used to prevent a child coming into contact with an individual the Court considers should not have contact with the child or to prevent a change of the child’s surname.

An application for a PSO can be issued either on its own or during the course of other Children Act Proceedings; usually when one parent applies for a Child Arrangements Order (which determines where a child lives and how much time it spends with each of the parents). When an application is issued, notice of the application is usually provided to the other parent by the Applicant unless there are good reasons (usually safety) as to why ‘notice’ should not be given. These will need to be justified by the Applicant at the first hearing.

There are some restrictions on making a PSO. They cannot be made in respect of any child aged 16 or above unless there are exceptional reasons and even then it will not have effect beyond the child’s 18th birthday. Also, a PSO cannot be made in respect of a child in Local Authority care and every PSO order should be time limited.

When a Court considers making a PSO, the welfare of the child is the paramount consideration and the Court will, at each stage, have regard to the following (a) the welfare checklist as set out in S.1 Children Act 1989, (b) that for an application to be successful it must be better for the child for an order to be made than to make no order and (c) that delay in deciding matters is contrary to the welfare of the child.

If you require assistance with any aspect of a PSO, please follow our simple step-by-step guide to contact our clerks who will put you in touch with the family lawyer best able to help you. 

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