Over the recent months we have dealt with an influx of matters concerning the issue of separated parents being unable to agree holiday arrangements for their children. This blog provides an overview of what is needed to take a child abroad after parents have separated and what documentation may be required to avoid any unpleasant complications on the day of your journey.
Most separated couples are not aware that taking a child out of England and Wales without permission from the co-parent with parental responsibility is a very serious matter.
Determining who has parental responsibility is key. If both parents have parental responsibility, and there are no child arrangements orders or any restrictions in place, then neither of them can take the child abroad without the written consent of the other person with parental responsibility. Be aware that taking your child abroad without permission from the other parent constitutes abduction.
In the event that one of the parents has a Child Arrangements Order granted in their favour by the Court providing that the child is to “live with them” (previously known as Residence Order), they are allowed to remove the child from the UK for up to 28 days without the consent of the other parent. This is usually on the condition that the holiday does not conflict with any time that a court order states would normally be spent with the other parent.
More Information: Child Arrangement Orders
During an acrimonious split we often note that parents tend to share common fears about whether their ex-partner will return with the child from holiday or whether the child will be safe whilst in their care. Often, an immediate reaction is to try to stop the trip from happening and it can take a lot of trust and courage to come to terms with a trip abroad. If one parent does not consent to allow their child to leave the jurisdiction of England and Wales, it is possible to apply to the Court for a Specific Issue Order for permission to do so.
Equally, however, the other parent may apply to the court for a Prohibited Steps Order to prevent the child from travelling abroad for example on the basis that the holiday is not in the best interests of the child. Prior to any application being issued to the Court parents are required to attempt to mediate with each other to reach an agreement unless it is an emergency or other relevant exemptions apply.
Parents are therefore advised to consult with each other well in advance of the planned holiday to avoid any potential conflict over the dates or destination of travel. It is always helpful to provide each other with flight details, accommodation addresses and telephone numbers so that the other parent knows exactly where their child would be going and who to contact in case of emergency.
The additional issue to be aware of is when a parent or family wish to travel with a child who has a different surname to them. It is therefore essential that you bring either a consent letter from the other parent or a sealed copy of any court order permitting you to travel alone. You could also bring the child’s birth certificate or your marriage certificate/decree absolute to show your previous surname, or a change of name deed.
Should you require specialist advice, please contact a member of the Family Law Team at Sinclair Law on 01625 526 222 or alternative click here to arrange your 30-minute free initial consultation. We would be happy to assist you.