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What is a Prohibited Steps Order for Children?



There are a number of Court Orders that can be applied for under Section 8 of the Children Act 1989, and there are articles on our website that discuss these in more detail. These include Child Arrangements Orders, Specific Issue Orders and Parental Responsibility Orders.

In this article I will be talking about Prohibited Steps Orders which are used to stop a parent from taking certain actions relating to a child without the Court’s permission.

What are the first steps in applying for a Prohibited Steps Order?

In the majority of cases, a Prohibited Steps Order is applied for on an urgent basis as they may be required to stop a parent from removing a child from the UK (without the other parents’ consent or a Court Order). They are also frequently used to stop a parent from removing the child from the care of a parent, or anyone else who is caring for the child, other than any agreed arrangements through the Court.

There are often times when parents do not agree on contact arrangements, or a parent may have safeguarding concerns for their child when in the care of the other parent. In this case, they would need to ask the Court for a Prohibited Steps Order for the child not to be removed from their care in future, as well as needing a Specific Issue Order to have the child returned immediately.

Prohibited Steps Orders can have Penal Notices attached to them so that if the Order is not complied with, the Police can take action in having the child returned, and the parent breaching the Order may be fined or imprisoned.

How can the Court help with a Prohibited Steps Order?

As with any children matters, Orders can be made within proceedings if the Court feels it is necessary, even if it is not an Order that was initially applied for.  For example, you may have applied to the Court for a Child Arrangements Order and within proceedings, an issue arises such as a parent suggesting they will change the child’s name without the other parent’s consent. The Court could then make a Prohibited Steps Order that the child’s name cannot be changed unless agreed by anyone with Parental Responsibility or unless a Court orders it.

As these Orders are often required for a specific type of concern and to stop a certain action being taken, it is important that any Prohibited Steps Order that is made sets out very clearly what is being ordered by the Court.

It may be the case that a parent has not necessarily removed or refused to return a child but has threatened to take such action. The Court can still make an Order to stop a parent from removing a child from the other parent’s care if there is a concern that this may happen due to threats being made.

In less urgent circumstances, a parent may be attempting to change the child’s school without the other parent’s consent. This could be concerning as a change in location can have a number of impacting factors on a child. As with any matter, it is paramount that the child’s welfare and best interests are considered as a priority. If a change in school could affect the child such as a significant amount of travel or being a significant distance away from extended family or support.

How do I apply for an Urgent Prohibited Steps Order

If there is a risk to the safety of a child, you would be exempt from having to attend mediation and a Court application can be made on an urgent basis. The application can also be made without notifying the other parent if there is a risk that the child or yourself are at risk of harm as the application could provoke the other parent. In meeting with you, we would discuss your circumstances and advise you on what grounds you could make an application if necessary.

How can Andrew Isaacs Law help?

Should you be having any difficulties with agreeing a certain matter with the other parent of your child or have concerns that your child will not be returned to your care and you require advice, then please do not hesitate to give us a call and we can advise you further on the possible steps.   Andrew Isaacs Law are here to make the process easier for you and understand that your family matters. If you require our assistance, please call 01302 349 480 (Doncaster), 01664 896 218 (Melton Mowbray) or email family@andrewisaccs.co.uk

Francesca Mears – Family Law Executive







Dated:  20/03/2023

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