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How can I stop my ex removing our children from my care or changing their school?

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How can I stop my ex removing our children from my care or changing their school?

It is not unusual for disputes to arise with an ex-partner after a relationship comes to an end and sometimes these disputes may be over an issue concerning your child. You may find that when your relationship comes to an end your ex-partner wishes to change the children’s school or threatens to remove your child from your care without your consent.   

To stop this from happening, you may decide to apply to the court for a prohibited steps order (PSO) under Section 8 of the Children’s Act 1989. In short, this type of court order is often applied for when a parent wishes to prohibit another parent from exercising some parts of their parental responsibility.  

It is important to note that the court will only consider an application for a PSO if it is in the best interests of the child. The court will consider all aspects of the children’s welfare when making this decision in accordance with the welfare checklist. If the court believes the purpose of your application could be met by another type of order such as a child arrangements order, then the court may not grant a PSO. 

What can a prohibited steps order do?  

A prohibited steps order is an order which prevents someone with parental responsibility for your child from doing something such as:  

  • Removing a child from your care or another setting such as school 
  • Changing a child’s school   
  • Moving a child to a new country or another area of England and Wales
  • Changing a child’s name or the name they are known by 
  • Letting the child see a specific person if they present a safeguarding risk to your child 

The above list provides some common examples of where a PSO might be considered and deemed necessary by the court. There may be other circumstances where a PSO may be appropriate.  

This list should hopefully provide you with some clarity on whether you would meet the criteria to apply for a PSO. If you are still unsure if you would be able to apply for a PSO, please contact us on 0161 696 6193 to speak to one of our family law specialists who can advise you on the different options available.  

How long will a PSO last?  

Generally, a PSO will last for any duration that the court deem necessary when considering what is in the best interests of the child, but depending on the individual circumstances of your application, the court may decide not to impose a time limit. Instead, the PSO will naturally come to an end when a child reaches the age of 18 or if court discharges the order.  

It is worth considering that an application for a PSO cannot be made for a child who is over 16 years of age.   


Before making an application to the court, there is a requirement to attend a Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting (MIAM) with your ex-partner. At this meeting, you will have the opportunity to discuss the present issue with a professional mediator who can provide you with advice on the mediation process and other forms of dispute resolution available to settle your differences.   

Although a MIAM is a requirement when making an application for a PSO there are certain exemptions where this is not required. You may be exempt from attending mediation if your application is for an emergency PSO. Some exemptions include; being a victim of domestic abuse, there being an imminent threat to the child, or a matter of urgency for instance, your partner wishes to permanently move your child out of the country tomorrow.

Application process 

If this cannot be resolved using mediation, you will need to make an application for a PSO under Section 8 of the Children’s Act 1989, as follows:  

  • You will need to complete a C100 application form via the government website either on your own or with the help of a solicitor, this application will cost £232. 
  • Both you and the respondent will be provided with a copy of the application, an information booklet, and a notice of hearing .  

When making an application, you should consider your eligibility to qualify for legal aid, if you do qualify, this could assist you financially with the application, legal advice and potential representation at court. If you are unsure if you would meet the eligibility criteria, please contact our team on who can provide you with further information.  

If you would like to speak to a specialist in our family law team regarding an application for a PSO, please call Stephenson’s on  0161 696 6193.

By Nicole Leigh, graduate paralegal