What is a Prohibited Steps Order?
Updated: Apr 9
Prohibited steps order is a legal order in England that prohibits individuals from exercising some aspects of parenting. It involves restricting the parent from taking any action instead of permitting them to do so. This order can be regarding medical treatment, any educational matter of child or change of name, relocation, travel, exposure to another person, or any other restriction that the court may deem to be (or not) in the best interests of the child/children.
Who can apply under the order of the Prohibited steps?
Parents or guardians of the child and step-parents who have Parental Responsibility for the child can apply for this order under Section 8 of the Children Act 1989. However, a person who is 16 years or more or is under local authority doesn't come under the ambit of this order.
What can be asked under the order of the Prohibited steps?
Parents or guardians can ask for an order to ensure the best interests of the child or children. Some examples include an application for PSO on medical treatment, education including the change of school, restricting a child to be exposed to a specific person, shifting the child to another country, or changing his home, and considering similar issues.
Some examples of issues addressed by a Prohibitive Steps Order include:
Change of Name of a Child:
Child name must be registered at birth under the Births and Deaths Registration Act 1953. A child's name can be changed where one or both parents wish for this. A change of surname only is ordered if it is in the child's interest.
The following factors are essential to make an order to change the name of the child:
1. It should be for Child's welfare.
2. The link of the name between the child and both parents.
3. The quality of the relationship between the child and both parents.
Change of region of child:
When the parents want to remove their child from the jurisdiction of England, then court permission must be required. Removing a child without permission can result in an offense under the Child Abduction Act 1984.
Preventing Child from seeing a specific Person:
If a parent believes that meeting any specific person i.e. partner of another parent, is not good for a child (i.e, he or she is involved in drugs)and can affect a child in a wrong way then a request under prohibited steps order can be made in the court. Based in the welfare checklist the court will decide whether to grant the application or not.
How to apply for Prohibited steps order?
To apply under this order a proper application must be submitted to the family court. The application for use is the C100 form. Guidance for filling the C100 form has been published by us in another article.
What if the correct procedure is not followed to apply the order of the Prohibited steps?
The correct procedure must be followed while applying under the prohibited steps order, and proper wording should be used. In Re A and B's case, the father wasn't allowed to involve his children in political activities because he didn't provide any oral or written evidence and also he was unable to answer the mothers' concerns. The court stressed that the terms of a prohibited steps order must be clear and justified, and enforceable.
When can the Prohibited Steps not be Applied?
· Prohibited steps order cannot be applied if any other order has the same effect related to a certain case.
· Prohibited steps order cannot be applied after the age of 18.
· Prohibited steps order cannot be applied if the child is under the authority of the local court
Should the court grant prohibit steps order?
This is very well answered in the case law https://www.bailii.org/ew/cases/EWCA/Civ/2013/1412.html "In Re C (A child)  EWCA Civ 1412 Ryder LJ said: 'A prohibited steps order is a statutory restriction on a parent's exercise of their parental responsibility for a child. It can have profound consequences. On the facts of this case, without commenting on the wisdom of any step that either parent took or intended to take when they were already in dispute, and in the absence of an order of the court, father had the same parental responsibility as mother in relation to his son. Once the order was made, he lost the ability to exercise part of his responsibility and could not regain it without the consent of the court. That is because a prohibited steps order is not a reflection of any power in one parent to restrict the other (which power does not exist) it is a court order which has to be based on objective evidence. Once made, the terms of section 8 of the Children Act 1989 do not allow the parents to relax the prohibition by agreement. It can only be relaxed by the court. There is accordingly a high responsibility not to impose such a restriction without good cause and the reason must be given. Furthermore, where a prohibition is appropriate, consideration should always be given to the duration of that prohibition. Here the without notice prohibition was without limit of time. That was an error of principle which was not corrected by an early return date because that was susceptible of being moved or vacated unless the prohibition also had a fixed end date. The finite nature of the order must be expressed on the face of the order: R (Casey) v Restormel Borough Council  EWHC 2554 (Admin) at  per Munby J'.
vi) Further, the District Judge was being asked to make orders that were invasive of the Article 8 rights of the father and of the children to organise their family lives together with."
For what period is the Prohibitive Steps Order issued?
Generally, prohibited steps orders are issued for 6 to 12 months or the length of the time court has decided, depending on the circumstances of the case. However, in some cases, these can be many years.
Till what age are prohibited steps orders applicable?
But Specifically prohibited steps order is applicable until the child turns 16. In some cases where an order is passed after the age of 16, it will last until the child turns 18.
What if anyone breached the prohibited steps order?
The prohibited steps order is binding under the law if any person breaches this order or decision made by the court under the prohibited steps order then:
· He/she will be considered in contempt of court order
· The court may impose a fine or ask that person to compensate for financial loss.
· The court may ask for unpaid work (between 40 and 200 hours).
· He may get punished with imprisonment.
· The court may refer that parent to family mediation
When can one apply for the prohibited steps order?
If parents are going through separation or divorce and one of them finds that the other is not making decisions in the best interest of the child or is threatening or is being toxic to their family, then he/she may apply for the order of a Prohibited step in the court to avoid them from doing so.
Can the court issue a prohibited-steps order against the wish of a child?
Yes. However, if the child is about to reach the age of 16 the court will find out either child is competent and capable of making choices for his welfare, if so, then the court will consider this factor. That said, if the child is in needs to be protected, then his welfare court will not consider his wishes.
Is there any fee to avail Prohibited steps order?
At the start of the procedure, you have to pay a court fee to submit the C100 application in court and to issue the application, but the final Cost to avail of the prohibited steps order varies. It depends on the legal consultant you have appointed for this job.