Prohibited Steps Order

A prohibited steps order is granted by a family court to stop the other parent from making certain decisions about your child’s upbringing.

They can be used to prevent certain activities, such as them taking them the child out of the country without your express permission. Prohibited steps orders are usually issued when one parent is suspicious that the other may take the child out of the area and not bring them back home.

When are prohibited steps orders necessary?

A prohibited steps order (PSO) is used to prevent stop certain things from happening that may put your child at risk. A PSO can apply to any jurisdiction in the UK as specified by the court at the time it is issued.

If the court suspects that the parent in question may be planning to take their child out of the area in which live, they may officially state in the order that they are not allowed to do so.

Breaching a PSO is a criminal offence and anyone who does breach it is often charged as kidnapping which has a maximum sentence of 20 years.

Prohibited steps orders can also be used to:

⦁    Prevent a parent from changing the child’s surname,
⦁    Stop a parent from allowing the child to associate with a particular person, and
⦁    From a parent making medical treatment decisions for the child without their consent.

Does the prohibited steps order only apply to holidays abroad?

Some may worry that an ex-partner may take their child on holiday and not come back. In the rare cases that this does happen, even with a prohibited steps order in place, there are currently 45 countries in agreement with the UK to help in the recovery of the child that may have been taken there.

However, a PSO applies to any jurisdiction within the UK, as will be specified by the court at the time.

Even if the other parent only plans to take the child somewhere within in the UK, if they do not have permission from you or from the court, this could still put them in breach of their requirements in the prohibited steps order. If the other parent breaks the rules in the order, they could face a custodial sentence.

Emergency prohibited steps order

In some situations, you may find it necessary to take urgent action in order to protect your child. In this case, you would be able to make an application for a prohibited steps order without needing to notify the child’s other parent.

This is known as an ex parte application; however, this can only be made in exceptional circumstances and requires strong evidence for the order to be granted.

Restrictions on receiving a prohibited steps order

If you are considering making an application for a prohibited steps order, it is important to note that there are some restrictions.

If your child is aged sixteen or over, you will be unable to get a prohibited steps order against their other parent.

You also may not be able to receive a prohibited steps order that extends any longer than until the child’s sixteenth birthday, unless the court agrees that it is necessary for the wellbeing of the child. in this case, the order will only last until the child’s eighteenth birthday.


If you believe that you may need a prohibited steps order in place for your child’s other parent, or if you would like any other advice or support about custody and parental rights, please call 03330096275 to speak to one of the UK’s leading family law solicitors, Ashmans Solicitors.

You can also email us on or fill in the enquiry form below and we will get back to you as quickly as possible.


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