Prohibited steps orders are made by courts in family law cases in order to prevent a particular parent from carrying out specified actions such as changing a child's surname, not give the child inappropriate medical treatment,  move the child to another geographical area or change schools;  or from taking the child outside of the United Kingdom even for one night. 

Prohibited steps orders are particularly relevant to cases where there is a reasonable belief that one parent may take the child to another location, whether abroad or within the United Kingdom against the wishes of the other parent, or with a view to permanently relocate in a bid to maliciously prevent contact between the child and parent.

Failure to comply with a prohibited steps order is contempt of court and in some cases may result in the imposition of a custodial sentence.

Altering the terms of a prohibited steps order

Once a prohibited steps order is in place, its terms are enforceable under the law. However, if the situation changes, the parties within the family can negotiate an agreement to amend the terms of the order. The agreement will need to be approved and confirmed by the Family Court  and in cases where terms have been regularly breached or vexatiously contested, the court may not grant any amendments to the order.


Parents subject to prohibited steps orders can go on holiday with their child if the order doesn't prevent them from taking the child outside of the United Kingdom or out of a certain geographical area and   providing the other parent  court agree to the plans.

If the order specifies that a named parent is not to take a child outside of the United Kingdom and then do so, the action will be deemed a criminal offence (often charged as abduction) and could result in a custodial sentence.

Solicitors for prohibited steps orders

Oratto's member prohibited steps order solicitors can offer you a range of options for resolving disputes regarding child arrangements, including mediation and collaborative family law.

However, when deemed necessary, Oratto's specialists can also help you represent your child's best interests under the Children Act 1989 by taking the case through the Family Court.

Find the specialist who is right for you by searching through our member profiles today. Alternatively, try our matching service or call our national helpline today.