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Prohibited Steps Order - What is it and when do you need one? Meta title: leave blank

Co-parenting is a challenge for most separated parents, especially if you and your former partner do not always see eye to eye. If your co-parent or someone else wants to make a decision about your child’s upbringing that you do not agree with, a Prohibited Steps Order can stop them.

At Crisp & Co, we provide bespoke family law advice to families across London and the rest of the UK.

We work tirelessly to help families find positive, long-term solutions to their problems. We understand that co-parents often have different goals and priorities that make decisions about children extremely difficult. For example, parents often want to relocate their children to other parts of the country or abroad to be closer to other family members.

However, this sometimes means leaving the child’s other parent behind and reducing contact. In these types of situations, it can be challenging to decide what is in the best interests of the child. A third party perspective from a family judge is often what is needed to resolve the situation.

We can provide practical advice about obtaining a Prohibited Steps Order to prevent your child’s other parent or anyone else from making a particular decision about the child.

It is essential to talk to a specialist children law solicitor when thinking about applying for a Prohibited Steps Order.

Court proceedings can be long and stressful, especially for children, so a professional can help you explore all other options before proceeding, as well as handling the court application process for you.

Our Family Team are members of the Law Society Family Law Advanced Accreditation Scheme. This accreditation demonstrates our expertise in helping families achieve positive outcomes in complex matters. We can provide practical advice about whether applying for a Prohibited Steps Order is right for you.

Contact our Prohibited Steps Order solicitors today

For expert advice, get in touch with our Prohibited Steps Order solicitors by giving us a call or filling in our online enquiry form for a quick response.


    What is a Prohibited Steps Order?

    A Prohibited Steps Order is a court order that can prevent a person (usually someone with parental responsibility, such as one of the child’s parents) from making a decision about a child’s upbringing.

    A Prohibited Steps Order can prevent a wide range of parental decisions, such as decisions to:

    • Relocate a child within the UK or overseas
    • Move a child to a different school
    • Bring a child into contact with your former partner’s new partner or another particular person
    • Change a child’s name
    • Consent to a child undergoing a certain medical procedure or treatment

    When might you need a Prohibited Steps Order?

    It is typically separated parents who share the care of their children that seek Prohibited Steps Orders. Co-parenting after a relationship breakdown can be challenging even where the couple remain on good terms. Where parents disagree on a major decision about their child’s upbringing, a Prohibited Steps Order can bring the matter to a swift resolution.

    In particular, such orders can be helpful where you need to take urgent action, for example, to prevent your child from being taken overseas. Depending on the circumstances of the case, it is possible to make an emergency Prohibited Steps Order application without notifying the other party. If you need help to prevent a parent moving, and would like to make an emergency application, get in touch as soon as possible for urgent advice.

    Who can apply for a Prohibited Steps Order?

    You can apply for a Prohibited Steps Order if you have parental responsibility - the rights and duties of raising a child. People with parental responsibility can include:

    • The child’s parents (parental responsibility is not the same as legal parenthood)
    • The child’s guardian
    • Anyone who has been granted residence in relation to the child

    For more information about what parental responsibility is, who has it, and how you can acquire it, visit our Parental Responsibility page.

    If you do not have parental responsibility, you may still be able to get a Prohibited Steps order, but you must apply for permission from the court first. For example, if you are the father but you were not married to the mother before you split up and your name is not on the child’s birth certificate.

    For more information, please contact our Prohibited Steps Order solicitors.

    Can Grandparents get a Prohibited Steps Order?

    Grandparents do not typically have parental responsibility unless they have been granted residence in relation to the child through a Child Arrangements Order.

    If your grandchildren do not live with you under a Child Arrangements Order, you will first need permission from the court to apply for a Prohibited Steps Order. We can provide practical advice if you are a grandparent and are worried about a decision that your grandchild’s parents want to make.

    For more general information, visit our Grandparents’ Rights page.

    When can you not get a Prohibited Steps Order?

    You cannot apply for a Prohibited Steps Order if the child is:

    • Over 16 years old
    • In the care of the local authority (social services)

    How to apply for a Prohibited Steps Order?

    To apply for a Prohibited Steps Order, you must complete a specific court form and file it along with extra copies to serve on the other person.

    We can handle the entire application process on your behalf, ensuring that all court documentation is completed to the highest degree of accuracy so there are no risks of delays.

    How does the Court decide whether to make a Prohibited Steps Order?

    The court will only make a decision that is in the best interests of the child. They will weigh up all the factors of the case, such as:

    • The child’s physical, emotional and educational needs
    • The child’s wishes and feelings (in the context of their age and understanding of the matter)
    • The impact of any change in circumstances on the child
    • The child’s age, sex, background and any other relevant characteristics
    • Whether the parents or any other relevant person can meet the child’s needs
    • Whether the child is at risk of harm
    • All the powers the court has in relation to decisions about children

    This list of considerations is called the ‘welfare checklist’.

    If possible, the courts will encourage you and the other party to reach an agreement without the need for a court order.

    How do you get an emergency Prohibited Steps Order?

    If you need to urgently stop someone from making a decision about a child, for example, a decision about medical treatment, or to prevent a parent from moving overseas with a child, we can help you apply for an emergency Prohibited Steps Order.

    An Emergency Prohibited Steps Order may be granted if there is ‘strong evidence or an imminent threat’. In these circumstances, an Order can be granted without notifying the other person, although a court hearing will be listed for later on. We can provide fast advice and help you apply for an urgent Prohibited Steps Order.

    How long does a Prohibited Steps Order last?

    The Prohibited Steps Order will last for as long as the court says it should - usually a period of 6 or 12 months. Depending on the circumstances, the Order may last until a particular event, for example, until the child finishes their education.

    A Prohibited Steps Order cannot last once the child turns 16 years old (or 18 years old if there are special circumstances).

     How much does a Prohibited Steps Order cost?

    There is a court fee for applying for a Prohibited Steps Order - currently this is £237.

    There will also be the costs of your legal advice. We are upfront and transparent about our fees so you will have full control over how much you spend from the beginning of your matter. At your initial consultation we will provide you with an accurate quote. We will never go beyond this quote without talking to you first about what extra work is necessary.

    Rest assured; our experts will ensure that you understand the Prohibited Steps Order cost before proceeding.

    How long does it take to get a Prohibited Steps Order in the UK?

    It usually takes approximately 6-8 weeks to get a Prohibited Steps Order, though, in emergency situations it may be possible to obtain one immediately.

    If you believe that you need an emergency Prohibited Steps Order, please contact our specialist solicitors right away.

    Does a Prohibited Steps order remove parental responsibility?

    No, the approval of a Prohibited Steps doesn’t remove parental responsibility.

    Parental responsibility refers to the legal status that parents have concerning their children. It includes the rights and obligations parents have, and the duties related to caring for and bringing up their child. Parental responsibility remains unaffected by a Prohibited Steps Order.

    Can a Prohibited Steps Order prevent a child from moving abroad?

    If a parent takes a child outside of England and Wales without the permission of everyone with parental responsibility or the permission of the court, this could be child abduction.

    As with other decisions about children, the court will consider what would be in the best interests of your child. If they decide international relocation would not be in the child’s best interests, they may make a Prohibited Steps Order to prevent them from being taken abroad.

    Can a Prohibited Steps Order stop your child from meeting your ex’s new partner?

    If it would not be in your child’s best interests to meet your former partner’s new partner, the court may make a Prohibited Steps Order.

    It is important to think carefully about applying to court over a former partner’s choice to introduce your child to a new partner. If possible, we can help you negotiate a suitable outcome with your former partner, using alternative dispute resolution methods such as mediation or collaborative law where appropriate.

    If this does not work or there are other concerns, such as issues of domestic violence, we can provide clear, practical advice about applying to court.

    Can a Prohibited Steps Order be lifted?

    Where both parties agree that a Prohibited Steps Order no longer needs to be in place, these parties can reach an agreement, and request that the Court remove the Order.

    When making this decision, the Court will always put the best interests of the child first, meaning that they may not necessarily lift the Order, and that this will depend on the circumstances

    Where the party who is legally bound by the terms of the Prohibited steps Order believes that the Order should not be in place, they may have limited grounds to appeal the Order. A person may be granted the opportunity to appeal where there is reason to believe that:

    • The decision was made without following the correct legal processes
    • The decision made was incorrect and the result of a serious error

    Prohibited Steps Orders and domestic violence

    Prohibited Steps Orders can help protect children who are at risk of domestic violence and/or where it is not appropriate for co-parents to negotiate effectively because of domestic abuse concerns.

    For example, a Prohibited Steps Order could prevent a parent from taking their child from school or nursery without consent. Without the Order, the school or nursery would not be able to say no if the abusive parent tried to take their children away.

    To discuss the need of a Prohibited Steps Order due to domestic abuse concerns, please get in touch, using the contact details below.

    Contact our Prohibited Steps Order solicitors

    For expert advice, get in touch with our Prohibited Steps Order solicitors by giving us a call or filling in our online enquiry form for a quick response.