Prohibited Steps Orders

The lack of awareness surrounding Prohibited Steps Orders (PSO) has been recently highlighted in the latest series of ‘The Responder’ on BBC, set in our very own Liverpool.

The main character and his wife have a daughter together but have since separated. His wife is offered a job in London and makes repeated threats to simply accept the job and move with their daughter, without his consent.

Unfortunately, at no stage did he even consider obtaining legal advice on his options as a father with parental responsibility.

So, what is a Prohibited Steps Order?

A Prohibited Steps Order is a legal injunction used to prevent a parent or guardian from taking specific actions concerning their child without the consent of the Court or other parent. The primary aim of a PSO is to protect the child’s welfare by restricting actions that could be harmful to the child or are not in their best interests.

When are Prohibited Steps Orders Used?

PSOs can be used in a variety of situations. However, common scenarios include: –

  • Preventing Relocation: If one parent intends to move the child to a different part of the country or abroad, the other parent may seek a PSO to prevent the relocation, especially if the move would disrupt the child’s stability or existing arrangements and relationships.
  • School or GP Changes: To prevent one parent from changing the child’s school or GP practice without consulting the other parent.
  • Contact with Certain Individuals: A PSO can be used to prevent a child from having contact with certain individuals who may pose a risk to them.
  • Name Changes: To stop one parent from changing the child’s surname without the agreement of the other parent or court authorization.

How do I apply for a PSO?

There are several steps that  should be undertaken before a PSO will be considered by the Court:

  1. Seek Legal Advice: We would always advise consulting a family law solicitor to understand the merits of your case and the likelihood of success.
  2. File an Application: You will need to complete a C100 Form and submit it to your local Family Court. The cost of the application is £255, unless you qualify for a fee exemption.
  3. Attend a Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting (MIAM): The Court is placing  more emphasis on parties  attempting to resolve disputes outside of the courtroom using Alternative Dispute Resolution methods. Therefore, applicants are usually required to attend a MIAM before applying to the Court. However, please note you may be exempt in cases of urgency or where there are allegations of domestic abuse.
  4. Court Proceedings: The Court will usually schedule a hearing at which both parties can present their arguments. If agreement cannot be reached, then the judge will ultimately decide whether to grant the PSO having considered what is in the child’s best interests.

What is the Impact of a PSO?

PSOs can significantly impact the lives of both the child and the parents. For the child, a PSO acts as a layer of protection and ensures that major decisions about their life are always made with their best interests at heart. For the parents, a PSO can either provide reassurance or act as a restriction, depending on which side of the order they are on.


  • Child Protection: PSOs can prevent potentially harmful actions that could affect a child’s well-being.
  • Clarity and Stability: They provide clear boundaries for both parents, hopefully reducing future conflicts.
  • Legal Oversight: Ensures the major decisions are made with the oversight of the Court, meaning the child’s best interests will always be the paramount concern.


  • Emotional Strain: Any type of legal battle can be stressful and emotionally taxing for all involved, including the children.
  • Cost: Legal fees and Court costs can be significant.
  • Parental Conflict: Making an application for a PSO can exacerbate tensions between parents.

At MSB Solicitors, we have an experienced, award winning team of dedicated specialists who can advise you on any family law issue to include Prohibited Steps Orders.

If you would like to speak with us at one of our offices in Liverpool, Manchester, Birmingham  or Cheshire,  then please contact us confidentially on 0151 281 9040.

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