Prohibited Steps Order Explained
A Prohibited Steps Order is a type of Court Order used by one parent to stop another parent from making certain decisions about their child’s upbringing.
A Prohibited Steps Order could prevent:
- The parent from moving a child from their school/nursery
- The child coming into contact with another person (e.g. your ex-partner's new partner)
- The parent from moving a child outside of the UK
- Changing of a child’s last name
- The parent moving a child from their home or local area
- A parent allowing a child to undergo risky medical treatment
Prohibited Steps Orders have a large impact on the way in which a parent is able to exercise their Parental Responsibility, and for that reason they are not made lightly. A Prohibited Steps Order normally lasts until the child turns 16, but can be for a set amount of time, or until the child is 18 in limited circumstances.
Although a Prohibited Steps Order is used for a specific reason, it is different to a Specific Issue Order – a Prohibited Steps Order is used to prevent a parent from taking actions involving a child, rather than giving them permission to do so.
For initial advice get in touch with our Family and Child Law Solicitors.
When Can a Prohibited Steps Order be Used?
There are many reasons why a parent might apply for a Prohibited Steps Order, but the Court will only grant a Prohibited Steps Order if a resolution cannot be made with a Child Arrangement Order.
Before you take matters to Court it is important that you try and resolve the issues with your partner, either directly, with support from a Family Lawyer or through mediation. You may need to prove that you have attended a meeting with a mediator before applying for a Court Order, although there are exceptions to this, for example if there has been domestic violence involved.
The Court will only grant a Prohibited Steps Order if it feels it is in the child’s best interests.
Preventing the Other Parent from Moving your Child Away
It is quite common for separated parents to want to move to another town, city or even country. New job prospects, a new partner, or returning to live closer to other family members are some common reasons why parents might move away.
If you have taken your dispute to Court, the Court will explore why the parent is planning on moving the child as well as the arrangements for the move and beyond, in order to assess if this is in the child’s best interests. The Court assesses this by carefully applying all of the factors set out in what is known as the Welfare Checklist.
If your ex-partner can satisfy the Court that the move will improve your child’s quality of life then the Court may decide in their favour.
The Court understands that a child will, in most cases, benefit from having meaningful contact with both parents and shared parenting is the most common end goal in Court Proceedings. So if the move prevents you from seeing your child or impacts their relationship with you in some way, this will be taken into consideration.
The Court may also ask a CAFCASS Advisor to provide a written recommendation about whether the move is right for the child, or to act as the child’s voice in the Court. The child’s thoughts and feelings may be considered by the Court before they make a final decision. A Family and Child Law Solicitor can advise you further on the process, whether you are the parent wishing to relocate or the one being left behind.
Preventing your Child from Seeing a Specific Person
If your ex-partner has a new partner and you don’t want your child to see them, you will need to convince the Court that it is in the child’s best interest not to see that person.
The Court will always question why the Prohibited Steps Order has been requested, and may only grant a Prohibited Steps Order if it feels the child’s welfare may be affected otherwise. For example, if the new partner has a history of abusive behaviour or drug use.
If you do believe that your child having contact with this person could be a risk to their welfare, then we can help. Our Family and Child Law Solicitors can advise you on your individual case and the best steps you can take for your child.
Applying for a Prohibited Steps Order
Our family law team can help you apply to the Court for a Prohibited Steps Order, or you can apply yourself. If you feel able to make the application and represent yourself in Court, we don’t always need to take the reins entirely, and can advise you in the background.
It is possible to make an urgent application for a Prohibited Steps Order, where the other parent is not given notice, but only in exceptional circumstances. Our team will listen to your story and can explain to you if there is a way for you to secure urgent safeguards from the Court.
How to Apply for a Prohibited Steps Order
If you want to apply yourself, you will need to download a C100 form from the gov.uk website.
The gov.uk website provides guidance on how to fill in C100 forms, but if you feel unsure about how to present your case, then advice from a Family and Child Law Solicitor can give your application the best chance of succeeding.
You need to send the original signed C100 form plus three copies to the Court to approve.
If you don’t already have Parental Responsibility for the child, for example if you aren’t named as the father on the birth certificate, you can still apply for a Prohibited Steps Order. We can advise you on the information that you’ll need for this.
Can a Prohibited Steps Order be Overturned?
If you think a Prohibited Steps Order has been made for the wrong reasons then you might wish to appeal the Court’s decision. However, appeals can only be made in limited circumstances and take time.
If circumstances change, and a Prohibited Steps Order is no longer needed, then they can be discharged if all parties are in agreement, or if the Court considers it to be in the best interests of the child.
The Court will likely approve the changes to a Prohibited Steps Order, unless the original Prohibited Steps Order had a provision (a clause) outlining that changes couldn’t be made, even with consent.
Before Going to Court
If you feel able to, it’s important that you try and come to an agreement with your ex-partner about your child before you apply to Court.
If you cannot agree, the next step is to get advice about the strengths and weaknesses of your case, try mediation or prepare a Parenting Plan. You can attend a Separated Parenting Information Programme (or SPIP) to see if this can help you overcome the issues that you are struggling to resolve.
Applying for a Court Order can be expensive and take time, for both you and your child, but we understand that in some cases this may be a parent’s only option. Our specialist Family and Child Law Solicitors are experts in dealing with Child Court Orders and can help you with your case.
We are accredited by the Law Society for Family Law and Children Law, and will work with you to reach the best outcome for you and your child.
For initial legal advice call our Family Law and Divorce Solicitors
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