Prohibited steps order

If you are a parent and need to stop your co-parent from taking action concerning your child, you can apply for a prohibited steps order (PSO). Our friendly solicitors are here to advise you on your options so you can decide the best steps to take to safeguard your child.

What is a prohibited steps order?

A prohibited steps order (PSO) is a court order that prohibits somebody (normally a parent) from taking a certain action that affects a child.  
A PSO usually stays in effect until a child is 16 years old, although it can last until a child is 18 years old in certain circumstances. 

Who can apply for a prohibited steps order?

Those who hold parental responsibility for a child, a child’s guardians and those named on a child arrangements order can apply for a PSO.

When can you apply for a prohibited steps order?

You can apply for a PSO if you need to prevent someone from taking an action or making a decision that will have a negative impact on your child. For example: 

  • Moving your child to another school
  • Taking your child to see a particular person
  • Changing your child’s name
  • Moving your child away from the local area/abroad 
  • Giving their permission for your child to undergo a risky medical treatment
  • Decisions concerning religion

When deciding whether to grant a PSO, the court’s primary consideration will be your child’s welfare. Under the Children Act 1989, welfare issues include: 

  • A child’s physical, emotional and educational needs
  • The likely effect of any change in circumstances on a child. 
  • A child’s age, sex, background and any characteristics which the court considers relevant
  • Any harm a child has suffered or is at risk of suffering
  • How capable the parents are of meeting a child’s needs

The court will also consider the reasons why a parent wishes to take a particular action. For example, if they need to move away from the local area to start a new job, this may be acceptable but moving to prevent the other parent from seeing their child is not.  

How do you make a prohibited steps order application?

Usually, before you make a prohibited steps application you must demonstrate to the court that you have made every effort to resolve the matter. You will typically be required to attend a mediation and assessment meeting (MIAM) before a judge will hear your case. There are exceptions to this, such as if there has been domestic violence.

Our expert family solicitors can help you to negotiate an agreement with the other parent, or we can support you through the mediation process. If it is not possible to reach an agreement, we can apply for a PSO to stop your co-parent from taking an action or making a decision that is not in your child’s interests.

Have a question or need some help?

Contact our prohibited steps order solicitors

If you are considering applying for a prohibited steps order, please talk to our experienced and friendly family lawyers. Taking court action can be a stressful and long process, so we will guide you through all your options.

When there is no other choice but to apply for a prohibited steps order, we can manage the application for you and represent you in court if you choose. In an emergency, please get in touch with us straight away, and we will advise you whether the court is likely to consider your urgent application.

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Prohibited steps order FAQs

What is an emergency prohibited steps order?

If there is strong evidence of an immediate threat to a child, then an application can be made for an emergency prohibited steps order.

The court will grant an emergency prohibited steps order without notice. This means that the parent the order is against (the ‘respondent’) will not know about the application.

When an emergency PSO is granted, the respondent will be required to attend a court hearing at a later date.

When can you not apply for a prohibited steps order?

You cannot apply for a PSO if your child is over 16 years old or if they are in local authority care.

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