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What is a Prohibited Steps Order and When Might You Need One?

What is a Prohibited Steps Order and When Might You Need One?

Child’s hand resting on a desk and a c100 form; prohibited steps order

When it comes to Family law (in England and Wales), there are various tools in place designed to safeguard the welfare of children from disputes that arise as part of a divorce or separation. One of these tools is the Prohibited Steps Order (PSO). If you find yourself involved in a family matter where the safety or well-being of your child is at stake, understanding what a Prohibited Steps Order entails, is important. In the blog, we will address that very question, What is a Prohibited Steps Order and when might you need one?

What is a Prohibited Steps Order (PSO)?

A Prohibited Steps Order is a court order that prohibits a parent or guardian from taking certain actions concerning their child without obtaining the court’s permission first. These orders are typically sought when there are concerns about the child’s safety, welfare, or upbringing.

When Might You Need a Prohibited Steps Order?

Understanding when a Prohibited Steps Order (PSO) might be necessary is important for safeguarding the welfare of children amidst disputes stemming from a separation. Let’s take a closer look at some of the scenarios where seeking a PSO may be needed.

Child Abduction Prevention

If there’s a concern that the other parent could potentially take your child out of the country without your consent, the situation could become urgent.

This legal measure prohibits the other parent from removing the child from the country without court permission. A PSO not only prevents unauthorised removal but also establishes a clear legal basis for protecting your parental rights and your child’s safety. It provides a straightforward framework for authorities to intervene swiftly if an abduction is attempted, ensuring the child’s best interests are upheld.

Domestic Abuse or Violence

In cases involving a history of domestic abuse or violence, a Prohibited Steps Order is important for protecting the child from potential harm or exposure to dangerous situations.

By obtaining a PSO, the court can impose specific restrictions on the abusive parent, preventing them from engaging in behaviours that could endanger the child. These restrictions may include stopping contact with the child or imposing conditions for supervised visits to ensure the child’s safety.

Essentially, a PSO provides a necessary legal safeguard for children in environments affected by domestic abuse, prioritising their protection above all else.

Educational or Medical Decisions

In cases where there’s a disagreement over significant decisions like changing schools or undergoing medical procedures, a PSO offers clarity and stability.

By obtaining a PSO, parents can prevent one party from making one-sided decisions that could affect the child’s life without the other’s consent. This legal measure ensures both parents have a say in important matters.

Religious or Cultural Matters

In some instances, disagreements can arise regarding religious upbringing or participation in cultural activities. Through a PSO, parents can prevent one from imposing their beliefs on the child without the other’s consent.

This promotes fairness and respect for both parents’ perspectives while safeguarding the child from potential conflicts or pressures. It encourages constructive dialogue between parents to reach agreements that genuinely reflect the child’s welfare, fostering a supportive environment for their religious and cultural development.



How to Obtain a Prohibited Steps Order

Seek Legal Advice

Start by consulting a family law solicitor specialising in child-related matters. They’ll assess your situation and advise you on the best course of action, whether it involves family mediation or court proceedings. This initial step is important for understanding your legal options and ensuring your child’s welfare is protected effectively.

Family Mediation (if applicable)

In certain situations, Family mediation can serve as a valuable alternative to court intervention when seeking resolution in child-related disputes. This approach allows for open communication and encourages cooperative problem-solving, potentially leading to a more amicable outcome.

However, it’s important to recognise that mediation may not always be suitable or successful, particularly in cases involving safety concerns or a history of abuse.

If mediation fails or is deemed unsuitable, you can take the matter to court. In court, a judge will review evidence and decide what’s best for the child. Although court proceedings may be more adversarial, they provide a structured, legally binding process, ensuring protection and enforcement of rights, especially in complex cases.

File an Application

The next step is to submit a C100 application to the Family Court. This will outline the specific prohibited steps you’re seeking and the reasons behind your request.

By completing a C100 Form, you are asking the court to decide on important aspects of your child’s life. This is under Section 8 of the Children Act 1989. It’s a formal way to seek the court’s help in making these decisions.

You can download a C100 form HERE.

Court Hearing

After filing your application, the court will arrange a hearing where both parties involved will have the chance to explain their positions, provide evidence and address any concerns.

During this hearing, the judge will carefully review all the evidence presented. This process allows for a fair and thorough examination of the situation, ultimately resulting in a decision that prioritises the child’s needs above all else. 

Obtaining the Order

If the court approves the Prohibited Steps Order, it will specify the exact restrictions or obligations that must be followed.

You need to strictly comply with these terms to avoid facing legal consequences. Non-compliance can result in serious repercussions, including potential legal penalties, further court interventions or even jail.


Prohibited Steps Orders serve as a key component when it comes to protecting the welfare and interests of children. Whether it’s preventing child abduction, safeguarding against domestic abuse, or ensuring stability in specific matters, a PSO can provide much-needed clarity and protection in challenging situations.

By understanding when a Prohibited Steps Order may be necessary and how to proceed through the legal process, parents can actively protect the safety and well-being of their children when these types of disputes arise. This knowledge empowers them to make informed decisions and take appropriate actions to safeguard their children.

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