Prohibited Steps Order: What is a Prohibited Steps Order?


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Understanding the complex landscape of family law in England and Wales, especially when it concerns the safety and welfare of children, is a challenging task that often necessitates the intervention of the family court.

One of the critical tools available to protect children within this legal framework is the Prohibited Steps Order (PSO). This comprehensive guide aims to provide an in-depth understanding of Prohibited Steps Orders, their application process, and their significance in family law disputes, integrating the specified keywords to ensure a thorough exploration of the topic.

What is a prohibited steps order?

In family law, a Prohibited Steps Order is a court order used to prevent a parent or guardian from taking specific actions with a child without the court’s express permission. This can include decisions related to the child’s residence, preventing their removal from the country, or making significant changes to their daily life that could impact their well-being.

The main aim of obtaining a prohibited steps order is to safeguard the child’s interests, ensuring that any action taken does not detrimentally affect their welfare or remove them from an environment where they feel safe and cared for.

Making an application for a prohibited steps order

Obtaining a prohibited steps order begins with an application to the court. Applying to the court involves completing Form C100, the same form used for applying for a child arrangement order or specific issue order.

The application must detail the reasons for requesting the order, including any evidence of potential or actual harm to the child in question and how the proposed prohibition serves the interests of the child.

Parents or guardians with parental responsibility for the child can apply for a prohibited steps order. In cases where an individual does not automatically have parental responsibility, such as unmarried fathers not listed on the birth certificate or step-parents, they may need to seek permission from the court to make the application.

Legal framework and considerations

Under family law, the court’s most important consideration is the child’s welfare. When deciding whether to grant a prohibited steps order, the family court examines a range of factors, including:

  • The nature of the proposed action and its potential impact on the child’s welfare.
  • The current living arrangements and the quality of the child’s relationship with both parents.
  • Any evidence of domestic abuse or other forms of harm that could justify the need for the order.
  • The child’s own wishes and feelings, considering their age and understanding.

It’s important to note that a prohibited steps order is not made lightly. The court must be convinced that issuing the order is necessary to protect the child’s interests and that no alternative arrangement can adequately address the concerns raised.

How long does a prohibited steps order last?

A common question is, “How long does a prohibited steps order last?” The duration of the order is determined by the court based on the specifics of the case. They will also consider what is deemed to be in the best interests of the child.

Typically, an order lasts until the child reaches the age of 16 unless the court specifies a shorter period. The order can be reviewed and amended if circumstances change significantly, ensuring that the child’s welfare continues to be the primary concern.

Enforcement of a prohibited steps order is a serious matter. If an individual breaches the order, they can be held in contempt of court, leading to penalties including fines, community service, or even imprisonment.

The enforcement process highlights the order’s importance in protecting children from actions that could harm their physical or emotional well-being.

Relationship with other orders

Prohibited steps orders often intersect with other legal orders within family law, such as residence orders or child arrangement orders.

For instance, a parent with a residence order or a child arrangement order specifying living arrangements may seek a prohibited steps order to prevent the other parent from changing those arrangements unilaterally.

Similarly, a specific issue order may be applied for alongside a prohibited steps order to address particular matters of dispute regarding the child’s upbringing. This ensures all aspects of the child’s welfare are considered holistically.

Obtaining legal advice

The process of applying for a prohibited steps order, while necessary in certain situations, can be emotionally taxing and legally complex.

Seeking legal advice from a solicitor specialising in family law is crucial.

A solicitor can provide guidance on the strength of an application, assist in gathering and presenting evidence, and represent the applicant during court hearings.

Their expertise ensures that the case is presented effectively, highlighting the necessity of the order for the child’s welfare and ensuring that the family court is fully informed to make a decision that serves the best interests of the child.

ARC Costs maintain a panel of family law solicitors who can assist you in obtaining or disputing a prohibited steps order. We can also assist in the recovery and negotiation of legal costs for the on conclusion of a case.

Legal costs

The cost of a Court Application for a prohibited steps order is £232; however, some Applicants may be entitled to a court fee remission.

As with all legal cases, applying for a prohibited steps order is likely to result in additional legal costs such as solicitors fees and disbursements.

The rule of thumb in family law is that each party bears their own costs. In certain situations, such as in legal aid cases, and in circumstances involving unreasonable conduct of a party, an inter partes costs order may be made in favour of one or more parties on rare occasions.

In these circumstances, the Receiving Party will be required to submit a bill of costs to the Paying Party. The Paying Party can then negotiate those costs using points of disputeNegotiation of costs should be undertaken using points of dispute and replies. If an agreement cannot be reached, a Detailed Assessment Hearing may be required.

Quite often, one of the parties involved in proceedings may be legally aided, and in these instances an Order will be made on conclusion for the legal aid costs to be assessed, which are payable centrally from the Legal Aid Agency, rather than any of the parties.

How can ARC Costs Assist?

If you require the assistance of a solicitor to help you obtain or dispute a prohibited steps order, ARC Costs can introduce you to a solicitor in our network.

ARC Costs can assist in all legal costs matters, including costs in C100 applications, irrespective of whether you are a legally aided party, or a paying/receiving party. If a costs order is made, you should seek the assistance of a costs specialist immediately.

We also regularly provide assistance to law firms in legal aid funded cases, ranging from fixed costs matters, to exceptional costs claims and Very High Costs Cases (VHCCs).

We are highly experienced Costs Draftsmen/Costs Lawyers and have been successful in recovering substantial amounts in legal fees for our clients.

We can be contacted via email at, or by telephone on 01204 397302. For more information on legal costs, please find out more about our speciality areas of expertise and our services on our legal costs page.

We may receive payments from third party solicitors on our panel to whom we may refer your claim. We will never charge you for any referrals made to our panel of third parties.


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