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What are Prohibited Steps Orders? How to apply and enforce them.

Updated: Mar 26, 2023


What is a Prohibited Steps Order?

A Prohibited Steps Order is issued by a court in order to prevent parents from acting or making certain decisions about or on behalf of the children without the express approval or permission of the court.

In simple words, a prohibited step order can be defined as a legally enforceable order which can prohibit a parent from exercising some of their parental responsibilities.

Usually, prohibited steps orders prevent someone from carrying out a specific activity in relation to the child(ren) involved. Some of the activities which can be prevented by obtaining a prohibited steps order are changing the surname, removing the child from school, taking the child out of the country, etc.

The guardian, parents, or holders of the child arrangement order can apply for the prohibited steps order under Section 8 of the Children Act 1989.

However, the basic exception to the aforementioned rule is if the child is 16 or over, or if the child is under the care of a local authority.

What happens at a prohibited step hearing?

At the prohibited steps hearing, the court will examine all the pieces of evidence and witnesses provided in the case and conclude why the prohibited steps order has been applied for.

While deciding on whether to issue a Prohibited Step Order or not, the court must examine the reason why the prohibited steps order was applied for.

Considering the evidence and welfare and best interest of the child, the court will provide its judgment.

What is the difference between a Specific Issue Order and a Prohibited Steps Order?

A Specific Issue order is an order which provides the right to the parent who has parental responsibility to make an independent decision about the child about certain matters (eg. Can choose where the child goes to school without having to consult the other parent).

On the other hand, Prohibited Steps Orders is the order that can be used to prevent the parent from taking certain actions for the child (Eg. Can stop a parent from changing a child's school without the permission of the other parent)

So in short, a Prohobited Steps Order takes away parental rights, whereas a Specific Isue order strengthens them.

How long does a Prohibited Steps Order last?

Generally, the court sets the time frame of the Prohibited Steps Orders; however, it may vary from case to case. Normally, the court set the duration considering what will be in the best interest of the children. The duration in such cases may last for several months or may even lead to many years.

A Prohibited Steps Order usually remains intact until further notice, although it may end by the time the child becomes 18 years of age.

A Prohibited Steps Order cannot remain intact once the child reaches the age of 18 and becomes an adult in the eyes of the law.

Can a father stop a mother from moving around in the UK?

Although there is no law that means a child and parent must ask for permission to move around within the UK, the other parent has the right to prevent such moving provided they have meaningful reasons to present to the court.

The primary concern of the Court will be whether the move will be for the best interest and welfare of the child’s upbringing under Section 1(1) of the Children Act 1989. If they find it is not in the child’s best interest, the court can pass a Prohibited Steps Order to prevent them from moving to certain places in the UK etc etc.

Can you move if you have a Prohibited Steps Order?

In case you have a prohibited steps order that prohibits the child from moving to another country, but you wish to do so anyways, you will have to apply to the court for permission to do this.

While granting permission, the court will consider the reasons for moving and analyse whether the move is for the welfare and best interest of the child.

What can I ask for in a Prohibited Steps Order?

A Prohibited Steps Order can stop someone from doing any of the following;

  • Taking the child to another country

  • Changing the surname of the child

  • Relocation to a new house

  • Making certain medical decisions for the child

  • Moving the child to a new school

  • Prohibiting the child from seeing a specific person

The specifics of the order can vary per case.

It is to be noted that a prohibited steps order can be made against anybody, not just the parents of the child.

Can I apply for a Prohibited Steps Order myself?

Yes, you can apply for a Prohibited Steps Order yourself.

Court Help Limited can help you apply for a prohibited steps order.

Why would a Prohibited Steps Order be granted?

Prohibited Steps Order is granted by the court to prevent the parent to exercise Parental Responsibility.

It is a form of injunction that can be used by a parent to stop another parent from making some decisions regarding the upbringing of the child in case there is no such agreement.

The Family Courts will always make a decision in the best interest of the child, so they will only grant a Prohibited Steps Order if it is beneficial for the child(ren) involved.

Can a Prohibited Steps Order be overturned?

Yes, a prohibited steps order can be overturned, however, the court will not overturn it if it finds that removing the prohibited steps order may negatively affect the child.

A prohibited steps order can be overturned once CAFCASS submits its written report and recommends it or the other party requests to remove it. The judge will then review these reports and recommendations and make decisions that are in the best interest of the child and decide whether to overturn the prohibited steps order.

How do you get a Prohibited Steps Order lifted?

If the parties involved in a prohibited steps order reach an amicable agreement, then the applicant can request the court to change the prohibited steps order. Before making any decision to lift the prohibited steps order, the court will consider the welfare and best interests of the child.

A Prohibited Steps Order is also lifted if CAFCASS submits its written report and recommends it or the other party requests to remove it in an application to the court.

What happens if someone breaks a Prohibited Steps Order?

A court order is legally binding and enforceable. In case, someone does not comply or break a prohibited steps order, it will consider contempt of court and the person could even be committed to prison for such contempt. In such cases, actions can be taken against the offending party. There are also alternative punitive measures, such as Unpaid Work (between 40-200 hours).

However, the Court will also consider the reasons for the breach of the Prohibited Steps Order - if it was justified if it was in the best interests of the child, etc. This may lead to a reduced or no penalty for the breach.

How is a Prohibited Steps order enforced?

A prohibited steps order can be enforced if a parent breaks the terms of the agreement. This would be via an Enforcement Order. (a Prohibited Steps Order counts as a type of Child Arrangements Order and is therefore enforced in the same way via an Enforcement Order).

The offending party has the right to apply to the court so that the order can be enforced. However, the child must be under 16 to do so.

How can we help you in obtaining a Prohibited Steps Order?

We at Court Help Limited are specialized in family court matters including prohibited steps orders by drafting statements and applications. Our legal team has rich experience and knowledge to assist you in the documentation and paperwork involved in such cases.

Apart from prohibited steps orders, we also specialize in various family law matters such as child custody, divorce settlement, domestic violence, etc.

To know more about prohibited steps orders in England, check out some of our other related articles which are available here.

In case you are facing any such issues concerned with family law matters, do not hesitate to contact us. You can read our reviews here. At the bottom of the page, there is a Quick Contact Form, you can fill it out or email us at or call us at 07375757510.

Note: This article is not legal advice and must not be treated as legal advice.


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