Prohibited Steps Order
What is a Prohibited Steps Order?
A Prohibited Steps Order or PSO is a court order which prevents 1 parent from certain actions or activities which they would normally have based on having parental responsibility rights in law. Consequently, such Orders can give the other parent or guardian the right to make independent decisions regarding their child or children without needing the approval or permission of the parent subject to a prohibited steps order.
A Prohibited Steps Order may be applied for if:
- The parent or guardian with care fears that the non-resident parent may try to take their child/children away and maybe even remove them from the country
- The non-resident parent intends taking the child or children on holiday, either abroad or in the UK, against the better judgement of the parent or guardian with whom the child lives
- The parent or guardian with day-to-day care feels that the non-resident parent is spending time with someone or has a new partner who may be a bad influence or pose a threat to their child/children
- The parent or guardian with care believes that the non-resident parent is intending to change the child’s or children’s surnames
- The parent or guardian with care needs to make important independent decisions regarding the medical treatment or other medical issues of the child
- The parent or guardian with care needs to make important independent decisions regarding the child’s or children’s schooling and education
Applying for a Prohibited Steps Order
A parent or guardian can apply for a Prohibited Steps Order independently but it is advisable to seek legal guidance.
The parent applying for the Prohibited Steps Order will be required to fill in a C100 form and compose a ‘Position Statement’ to present to the court.
A Position Statement should be written in a clear, concise manner and should contain the following:
- An accurate account of the reasons why the parent or guardian with care is applying for the order
- Why the reasons for the Prohibited Steps Order application are in the child’s or children’s best interests
What Happens when a Prohibited Steps Order is Breached?
If the non-resident parent breaches the Prohibited Steps Order he or she could be prosecuted and may even face a custodial sentence.
If a non-resident parent takes the child or children out of the country without the court’s consent then there are steps which can be taken to recover the child/children in question. However, the recovery of the child depends on which country the non-resident parent has taken them to.
Currently there are 45 countries which have made an agreement with the United Kingdom to aid the recovery of children taken by a non-resident parent without the court’s consent.
Recovery of a child or children from a country other than the ones within the agreement can sadly prove much more difficult.
Change in Circumstances
If circumstances change, perhaps the relationship between the non-resident parent and the child in question has improved or the non-resident parent is showing more responsibility and requests more lenient visitation rights, then, under some instances, the Prohibited Steps Order can be changed to give the non-resident parent more rights and increased access to the child.
However, if there have been previous occasions where the non-resident parent has breached the terms of their visitation rights the magistrate may decide that it is in everyone’s best interests to rule against the changes proposed.
The parent or guardian with care will also have to comply with the rules of the Prohibited Steps Order and if an agreement has been made with regard to the visitation rights of the non-resident parent then the parent or guardian with care will be required to honour this agreement.
No changes can be made to a Prohibited Steps Order without the approval of the court.