Understanding the Prohibited Steps Order in Family Law

Prohibited Steps Order

When it comes to custody battles, there are many legal terms and processes that can be confusing and overwhelming. One of these terms is a “Prohibited Steps Order.” In this article, we will break down what a Prohibited Steps Order is and how it can impact your custody case.

What is a Prohibited Steps Order?

A Prohibited Steps Order (PSO) is a legal order issued by a court that prohibits a parent from taking certain actions or making certain decisions regarding their child without the court’s permission. This order is typically put in place to protect the child’s best interests and prevent any potential harm or disruption to their life.

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When is a Prohibited Steps Order Necessary?

A Prohibited Steps Order may be necessary in situations where one parent is concerned about the other parent’s actions or decisions regarding the child. This could include concerns about the child’s safety, well-being or overall best interests. Some common reasons for a Prohibited Steps Order include preventing a parent from taking the child out of the country, changing the child’s school or medical care without consent, or exposing the child to harmful or inappropriate situations.

When are Prohibited Steps Orders Used?

Prohibited Steps Orders are used in situations where one parent has concerns about the actions or decisions of the other parent regarding the child. Some common scenarios where Prohibited Steps Orders may be used include:

Preventing Relocation

A Prohibited Steps Order can be used to prevent relocation of a child by one parent without the consent of the other parent. This means that if a parent is planning to move to a different city or country with the child, the other parent can apply for a Prohibited Steps Order to prevent this from happening. The purpose of this order is to ensure that both parents have a say in important decisions regarding the child’s living arrangements and to protect the child’s best interests.

Restricting Contact with Certain Individuals

An Order can also be used to restrict contact between a child and certain individuals. This may include individuals who may pose a risk to the child’s safety or well-being. By obtaining a Prohibited Steps Order, a parent can ensure that the child is not exposed to individuals who may have a negative influence or pose a threat.

Prohibiting Travel

A Prohibited Steps Order can also be used to prohibit travel with a child without the consent of the other parent. This may be necessary in situations where there is concern that the child may be taken out of the country without permission, or that travel may pose a risk to the child’s safety or well-being. By obtaining an Order, a parent can ensure that the child’s travel plans are restricted and that they cannot be taken out of the country or a specific area without the consent of both parents or the court.

Restricting Medical Decisions

An Order can also be used to restrict medical decisions regarding a child without the consent of the other parent. This may be necessary in situations where there is a disagreement between the parents about a specific medical treatment or procedure. By obtaining a Prohibited Steps Order, a parent can ensure that certain medical decisions are restricted and that they cannot be made without the consent of both parents or the court.

Relationship to the Child Arrangements Order

It is important to note that a Prohibited Steps Order is a separate legal order from a Child Arrangements Order. While both may be used in custody battles or disputes between parents, they serve different purposes. A Child Arrangement Order determines who the child lives with, spends time with and has contact with, while a Prohibited Steps Order focuses on specific actions or decisions that one parent is prohibited from taking without consent.

How is a Prohibited Steps Order Obtained?

In order to obtain a Prohibited Steps Order, a parent must file an application with the court. This application should outline the specific concerns and reasons for requesting the order. The court will then review the application and make a decision based on the best interests of the child. It is important to note that a Prohibited Steps Order is not automatically granted and the court will consider all factors before making a decision.

What Happens if an Order is Violated?

If a parent violates an Order, they can face serious consequences. This could include fines, jail time or even a change in child arrangements. It is important for both parents to understand the terms of the Prohibited Steps Order and abide by them to avoid any legal repercussions.

Enforcing a Prohibited Steps Order

Informing Relevant Parties

Informing relevant parties about a Prohibited Steps Order is an essential step in enforcing it. When a Prohibited Steps Order is issued, both parents involved in the custody battle need to be informed about its terms and conditions. This includes the parent who is subject to the order and the parent who is seeking to enforce it.

To inform the relevant parties, it is important to follow the proper legal procedures. This usually involves serving the Prohibited Steps Order to the parent who is subject to it.

Additionally, it is advisable to keep a record of the communication and documentation related to the Prohibited Steps Order. This can help in case there is a need to provide evidence of compliance or non-compliance with the order in the future.

Applying for Contempt of Court

Applying for Contempt of Court can be a legal recourse when dealing with a Prohibited Steps Order in a custody battle. If a parent violates the terms and conditions of the order, the other parent can file a motion with the court seeking a finding of contempt.

To apply for Contempt of Court, the parent seeking enforcement of the Prohibited Steps Order will need to gather evidence of the violation, such as documentation, communication records or witness statements. They will then need to present this evidence to the court and explain how the other parent’s actions have violated the order.

If the court finds the parent in violation of the Prohibited Steps Order, they may impose penalties or sanctions, such as fines, community service or even jail time.

Alternatives to Prohibited Steps Orders

Alternatives to Prohibited Steps Orders can be explored in custody battles when parents want to address specific concerns or issues without obtaining a court order. Here are a few alternatives to consider:

Mediation: Parents can engage in mediation to resolve their differences and come to a mutual agreement regarding the child’s welfare. A neutral third party, known as a mediator, facilitates the conversation and assists in finding common ground.

Parenting Plans: Creating a comprehensive parenting plan can help establish guidelines and expectations for both parents. This plan can outline how decisions will be made and provide a framework for resolving conflicts.

Negotiation and Agreement: Parents can try to negotiate and reach an agreement on specific issues without involving the court. This can be done through open and honest communication, focusing on the best interests of the child.

The Impact of Prohibited Steps Orders on Custody Battles

Prohibited Steps Orders can have a significant impact on custody battles. They can be used as a tool to protect a child from potential harm or to prevent one parent from making decisions that could negatively impact the child’s life. However, they can also create tension and conflict between parents, making it even more difficult to come to a custody agreement.

In some cases, an Order may be used as a temporary solution while the custody battle is ongoing or as an interim step before a Specific Issue Order is finalised. Once a final custody agreement is reached, the Prohibited Steps Order may be lifted or modified. It is important for both parents to communicate and work together to come to a resolution that is in the best interests of the child.

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