Injunctions

Injunctions

Inevitably the separation of parents, the difference in parenting styles and views as to how a child should be raised can be a cause for concern. Often disputes may arise, or one parent may make a parenting decision, without the other’s consent; Alternatively they may inform you that they are planning to make a decision which you are not agreeable to.

Whether you wish to prohibit the other parent from removing a child from school, changing the child’s last name or in extreme circumstances removing the child from the UK, FisherWright Solicitors with their wide range of expertise in family law will be able to assist you in seeking an injunction (‘Prohibited Steps Order’) to prohibit the other parent from taking a particular course of action.

What is a Prohibited Steps Order?

A ‘Prohibited Steps Order’ is an order which will prevent a parent or individual with parental responsibility from taking a particular course of action without the consent of in absence of the Court’s consent. A Prohibited Steps Order can be obtained to cover a multitude of issues specific to your personal circumstances, which can include but are not limited to, the removal of a child from the UK, the change of a child’s name, or school, decisions relating to the medical treatment a child receives, and also decisions as to the religion that a child is to follow, or individuals that a child may come into contact with.

A ‘Prohibited Steps Order’ can be only made, not only to prevent a particular action from being taken, but can also specify how a particular action is to be performed, outline conditions for an individual to comply with. The Court also possesses power to make supplementary Order’s which they find appropriate considering the circumstances at hand.

What decisions can a Prohibited Steps Order prevent?

A Prohibited Steps Order can be obtained to cover a multitude of issues specific to your personal circumstances, which can include but are not limited to, the removal of a child from the UK, the change of a child’s name, or school, decisions relating to the medical treatment a child receives, and also decisions as to the religion that a child is to follow, or individuals that a child may come into contact with.

Who can obtain a Prohibited Steps Order ?

A Prohibited Steps Order can be obtained against any individual irrespective of whether they have parental responsibility over a child. In extreme circumstances, a Prohibited Steps Order can also be obtained against a person who is not specifically a part of the proceedings, such as extended family members who wish to make decisions in relation to a child which you are not agreeable to.

What decisions can a Prohibited Steps Order prevent?

The duration of a ‘Prohibited Steps Order’ will be determined by the Court, in most circumstances a ‘Prohibited Steps Order’ will remain in place until a child turns 16, and will extend until the child reaches the age of 18 in exceptional circumstances. Alternatively, a ‘Prohibited Steps Order’ may be granted for a specific duration to prevent an individual with parental responsibility from taking a particular course of action.

Factors that the Court will consider

In deciding whether to grant a ‘Prohibited Steps Order’ the Court will consider a range of factors. When considering to make an Order against a parent, the Court will presume that parental involvement in a child’s life will be beneficial unless there is a risk of harm to the child.

The Court will grant a ‘Prohibited Steps Order’ where they have established that making an Order would be more beneficial to the child as opposed to the absence of an Order.  This is known as the ‘no Order’ principle.

The Court will then consider the factors outlined within Section 1 of the Children’s Act 1989. Firstly, the Court will consider the welfare of the child, this is the ‘paramount interest’ of the Court.

The Court will also consider the factors within the ‘statutory checklist’ in Section 1(2) of the Children’s Act 1989 which will include, the child’s individual physical and emotional needs, needs in relation to education, the ‘wishes and feelings of the child’, the age of the child, risk of any harm, the capability of the child’s parent to meet the needs of the child.

Emergency Situations

Whilst an application for a ‘Prohibited Steps Order’ can be made on a non-emergency basis, in certain exceptional circumstances, such as if there is a serious risk of harm to the child, it will be possible to make an application for a ‘Prohibited Steps Order’, without notifying the other parent.

This will be useful if you believe that notifying the party subject to the proceedings may be counterproductive to the Order itself, or if the Order is of an urgent nature, for example, if you are worried your child might be removed from the UK or alternatively, if notification of your application would place the child in risk of danger.

Should the matter be of an urgent nature, please contact our specialist team of legal advisers who will be able to assess the matter and provide you with comprehensive advice as to how you should proceed.

Steps for making an application for Prohibited Steps Order

Step 1

Mediation

Before commencing proceedings for a Prohibited Steps Order, it is a requirement for parties to attend a Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting (MIAM), the sole purpose of this meeting will be to determine whether a settlement could be reached in relation to the issue of concern without the need for lengthy and expensive Court litigation.

If, however, your matter is urgent, please contact our solicitors who will be able to advise you whether you could be exempt from this requirement, such exemptions could include if domestic violence has taken place or you have concerns regarding the child’s safety.

Step 2

Application to the Court

 Once you have attended the MIAM, the next step will be to file an application to the Court for a Prohibited Steps Order, providing details in relation to the child/children, the recourse you are seeking and the reasons for doing so. The Court will then proceed to consider the application, and serve a copy of the application form and response pack to a party against whom the Order is being obtained. If the application is being made without notice the method of service will vary.

Step 3

First Hearing Dispute Resolution Appointment

Once the Application has been issued, the Court will then allocate a First Hearing Dispute Resolution Appointment. The Court will also send a copy of the application to Cafcass, who are the Children and Family Court Advisory Service.

The First Hearing Dispute Resolution Appointment is a hearing where the Court will narrow the issues of each party and determine whether a resolution is possible by way of a settlement. If parties are able to reach a settlement as to the issue, the Court will be able to grant an Order outlining the terms which have been agreed.

However, if the parties are unable to reach an agreement, the Court will narrow the issues, and Order how the matter is to proceed and could direct that further evidence is collected which could include the provision of a CAFCASS report, or for Witness Statements to be produced by parties in preparation for the final hearing. 

Step 4

Dispute Resolution Appointment

If matters cannot be resolved at the First Hearing Dispute Resolution Appointment, the Court will list the matter for a further hearing, namely the Dispute Resolution Appointment. The Court will further stipulate a number of Court Directions which will vary depending on the individual circumstances of each case. Court Directions are tasks that must be completed and complied with by a specific date.

At the Dispute Resolution Appointment, the Court will consider the issues of dispute,  and narrow the scope of these issues, hear further evidence. If parties are able to settle, the Court may proceed to approve a Final Order. If however. The matter is not resolved, the Court could make further Directions.

Step 5

Final Hearing

At the final hearing the Court will assess the evidence provided by both parties and grant a ‘Prohibited Steps Order’ if they deem it appropriate. The Order will outline the activity/ action that the individual with Parental Responsibility is prevented from taking. The Court may also make an Order for costs, to outline which party will be responsible to pay the costs of the application.

In order to discuss issues relating to your children, and exactly how you would like us to help, please contact FisherWright Solicitors today. We look forward to being of assistance.