Family Law Hub

Prohibited Steps

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  • The father had applied without notice to the mother for an order making their four-year-old son a ward of court, a prohibited steps order preventing the mother from withdrawing funds held in an account earmarked to pay the son's school fees, and a port alert order. Both parents lived in London, and the child lived with the father. Mostyn J's decision was to dismiss the father’s application for a port alert order. Firstly, because it should have been made to the Family Court and not to the High Court, and secondly, because he was not satisfied that there was a real and imminent risk that the mother was going to remove the son from the jurisdiction and return with him to Slovakia or the Czech Republic. Her only contact with the child was supervised, and Mostyn J thought it unlikely that she would be able to abduct the child in such circumstances. He also considered whether the Family Court had the power to issue a freestanding port alert order, and decided that it did. He provided guidance on the correct method of applying for a freestanding port alert order, and supplied a pro forma port alert order modified for use in the Family Court. Judgment, 02/07/2021, free
  • The Irish father sought the return of two five-year-old children to the Republic of Ireland under the Hague Convention. The mother, a British national currently living in England after a clandestine departure, opposed the application, while applying under the Children Act for leave to remove to Ireland in respect of her third child, in case a return order was made in respect of the other children. The father of the third child applied for a residence order and a prohibited steps order. Peel J made a return order for the first and second children upon their father undertaking, among other things, to pay weekly child maintenance and to not support any prosecution of the mother. Peel J also decided that the mother should be given permission to relocate with the third child to Ireland. Among other factors, the father of the third child had shown himself capable of violence to the mother and her children, and so the court could not be confident about entrusting the care of the third child to him. Judgment, 22/03/2021, free
  • The father had applied for a child arrangements order that the children live with him, and a prohibited steps order preventing the mother from removing the children from the jurisdiction. It had previously been found as a fact that that the father had raped the mother, had physically assaulted her in front of the children, and had caused direct harm to one of the children. An expert witness concluded that there was no reasonable prospect of the father engaging successfully in therapy so that the risks he presented could be ameliorated. The guardian's view was that risks remained to the children, given the father's history of manipulative behaviours, and so even indirect contact was not recommended. The father claimed that this was a case of parental alienation, where the mother had sought to paint a false picture of him to the children and to the court. HHJ Vincent found there was no evidence of this. All of the mother's allegations had been found to be true. HHJ Vincent was not satisfied that the physical and emotional safety of the children and their mother could be secured before, during and after contact. They remained at risk of further domestic abuse by the father, even if contact were to be supervised. The father's applications were refused. Judgment, 28/04/2020, free
  • The father appealed against the dismissal of his application for a prohibited steps order, which would have prevented the mother taking their child to Iraq. He argued that the judge had not adequately considered the risk of the child not being returned, nor whether the child would be safe in Iraq. However, Russell J DBE found that the judgment was wholly concerned with the child's welfare, the risk of the mother retaining the child was low, and indeed the greater risk of wrongful retention lay with the father. The appeal was dismissed. Judgment, 14/10/2019, free
  • The father had difficulties with anger management, volatility and aggression. The circuit judge had made a child arrangements order, including orders for supervised contact, non-molestation and prohibited steps, against which the father had, following a course of therapy, unsuccessfully appealed. He now appealed with regard to the fairness of those hearings. Baker LJ found that there had been no indication to the father, a litigant in person, that the court would be making orders in respect of his future contact or concluding the proceedings. The summary dismissal of his appeal had also been wrong. The two hearings together represented an unwarranted infringement of his rights to a fair hearing. Peter Jackson LJ agreed, and the matter was remitted for a further hearing. Judgment, 28/05/2019, free

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