What Is a Prohibited Steps Order?
A Prohibited Steps Order is also known as a PSO. It is a provision by a court that bars one of the parents from partaking in decision-making on the child’s welfare key issues. This is usually after a divorce or separation of the parents. In addition, the order prohibits a party (usually a parent) from a certain activity relating to a child(ren), and which also prohibits a party from exercising their parental responsibility.
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There are several things that a Prohibited Steps Order prohibits one of the parents from doing and they include:
- Preventing a child from a parent from taking them to another school
- Shield the child from meeting an ex-partner’s new lover
- Prevent the transfer of the child to another country by the ex-partner
- Prevent altering of the child’s last name
- Shield a parent from changing the child’s home
- Stop a parent from having a child undergo a risky medical procedure.
Prohibited Steps Orders intend to establish control over the management of a child by the parents. Therefore, the court has to do extensive research before excluding one of the parents from accessing the child. The order remains valid until a child is 16 years old. Nonetheless, there are cases when a special arrangement can be made to allow validity until a child is 18 years. This is only in special conditions.
It is essential to differentiate Prohibited Steps Order from a Specific Issue Order as they are closely related. As the name suggests, Prohibited Steps Order forbids one of the parents from making decisions about the child’s welfare. On the other hand, the Specific Issue Order permits one of the parents to determine the child’s welfare.
You need to identify which of the two is valid in your case. Here’s where the expertise of our adept family solicitors comes in handy.
Prohibited Steps Orders – When Can They be Used?
There are a plethora of reasons that can compel a parent to apply for a Prohibited Steps Order. Nonetheless, the court does not easily grant this order unless there is an impasse with a child arrangement order.
Parents should seek resolution via mediation or with the aid of a lawyer before seeking a court settlement. The court demands that one shows resolution attempts via mediation before filling for a Prohibited Steps Order. Nevertheless, this is not always the case. There are exceptions, such as when there has been domestic violence.
Noteworthy is that the court is fundamentally interested in the welfare of the child. It, therefore, only grants a Prohibited Steps Order when it is proven that the move will facilitate the wellbeing of the child.
Preventing the Other Parent from Moving or Relocating the Child
Moving to a new location is always an endearing prospect for many separated parents. This can mainly be searching for a better living environment, job, or settling with a new partner.
When a parent takes the case to court applying for a Prohibited Steps Order, the court analyzes the compelling reasons behind the need to relocate the child. Also under consideration are the conditions surrounding the relocation. The court makes these considerations to determine if the relocation is in the child’s best interests. There is a Welfare Checklist against which the court evaluates all the key factors to determine the viability of the relocation to the child’s welfare.
The burden of proof is on the ex-partner to convince the court that the move to a new location is healthy for the child’s wellbeing.
At all times, the court is inclined towards an arrangement that would see both parents partake in looking after the child. It is most of the time set to make a decision that would facilitate shared parenting. Therefore, there is a probable chance that the court is likely to deny the child’s relocation.
In determining the best decision for the child, the court may invoke the counsel of the CAFCASS Advisor. The CAFCASS Advisor is supposed to advise the court on the best move to favour the child.
Preventing a Child from Seeing a Specific Person
You may have reservations about your child meeting your ex-partner’s new lover. Your duty is to inform the court why the child should not meet the ex-partner’s new partner.
You need to explicitly explain your reservations to the court as they will be used in deliberating whether to issue the order. Among the paramount considerations is whether the new partner has been accused of drug abuse or abusive conduct in the past.
Applying for a Prohibited Steps Order
Our expert legal team are here to provide you with guidance and assistance through every bit of the process. Nonetheless, if you opt to do it by yourself, you first need to process Form C100. After downloading it, you need to fill out all the key details, submit the form to the court, and sign three copies. If you have difficulties filling the form, inform us, and we will assist you.
Also, you do not necessarily have to have parental responsibility to apply for Prohibited Steps Order. Therefore, if you are not the child’s father and you would like to bar the mother from moving the child, contact our experts, and they will assist you.
PSO’s are often emergency orders and can be finalized without notice hearings (ex-parte). It is often the case that the respondent might not actually be aware of the application at the time or invited to attend.
Please note that you do have to demonstrate to the court there is a need for an emergency hearing because of a change of circumstance for the child or the welfare of a child. Otherwise, the hearing will be listed as a normal hearing and not an emergency one.
Additional Factors of Consideration
Before applying for a prohibited steps order, the is a requirement that states you must attend a mediation and assessment meeting (MIAM) to resolve the issue unless an exemption applies to your case.
Most applications for a PSO is made on Form C100, but if you do not have parental responsibility, you must also fill out and process Form C2, which will give you permission to apply for an order under the Children Act 1989.
We highly recommend that you have a professionally drafted position statement that outlines and explains your reasons for applying for the PSO and underlying argument when you attend court, whether it is without notice (ex-parte) or with notice.
Can a Prohibited Steps Order be Overturned?
Suppose you feel that the order has been unfairly issued; you have the right to appeal to the court. Nonetheless, there are limited instances when appeals are allowed.
Before Going to the Court
It is important that you explore ways of resolving the child’s issues with your ex-partner before moving to court. This is because you will have to spend a considerable amount of money applying for a Prohibited Steps Order. Nonetheless, we understand that there are cases when this is the only viable option. If that’s so, talk to our team, and we will be your trusted partner from the beginning to the end of the case.
How Can Gulbenkian Andonian Help?
Our team of experienced family solicitors can assist you throughout the application of the order to the end of the case. You may opt to represent yourself in court. If that is what you would want, we will always keep you organized by providing background advice.
In the case of an emergency, you can actually make a Prohibited Steps Order application without necessarily telling the other partner. Just engage us, and we will inform you if your case is feasible for such an urgent application.
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Armen Andonian is the CEO of Solicitors Marketing, a London-based legal marketing agency. He is a legal content marketing expert who writes on UK individual immigration, business immigration, family law, finance, employment law and intellectual property. He has a passion for researching and communicating complex legal concepts and ideas in a clear and engaging manner and has developed a reputation as a highly skilled and versatile author on UK law-related issues. He has written for numerous publications, both online and offline, and his work has been featured in a variety of high-profile media outlets.