As we venture into the start of a new year, many parents will be thinking about the prospect of a holiday abroad with their children. If parents are separated there is a possibility this could result in disagreement. In this article we consider the top tips to facilitate amicable child arrangements.
Who has Parental Responsibility?
Much depends on who has parental responsibility for the child. If you are thinking of going on holiday abroad with your child it is important to consider whether you will need to obtain the consent of the child’s other parent, or anyone else with parental responsibility, before you make a booking.
Currently, mothers have automatic parental responsibility and fathers only automatically gain parental responsibility if they are married to, or in a civil partnership with, the mother at the time their child is born. Unmarried fathers can acquire these rights by marrying or becoming a civil partner of their child’s mother, becoming registered as the child’s father, entering into a parental responsibility agreement or being formally appointment as a guardian. It is also possible to apply to Court for parental responsibility.
Is there a Court Order in place?
Yes – if there is a Child Arrangements Order in place listing you as the person the child lives with, then you can legally take your child abroad for a period of up to 28 days in any one year without the permission of the other person with parental responsibility. It is reasonable to notify the other parent of your intended travel dates, where you will be staying and how they can make contact with the child while you are away.
No – you cannot take your child out of the country legally unless those with parental responsibility give permission, if you do this is child abduction. The consent of every person with parental responsibility will be required before you can take your child abroad, whether for a holiday or a longer period of time. It is always advisable to try to reach agreement directly through discussions or through mediation. If all persons with parental responsibility consent to you taking the child abroad on holiday then it is best to put this in writing and a letter will usually be sufficient. It is worth checking whether the country you intend to travel to has specific legal requirements.
What to do if you are unable to agree?
If you are unable to mutually agree and the other parent objects to you taking the child on holiday abroad then an application to Court may be necessary to seek permission. The Court’s primary consideration is whether travelling abroad would be in the child’s best interests taking into account the case specific circumstances. Whilst the Courts often consider it generally in the child’s best interests to be able to travel abroad, there are certain situations where permission may be refused such as travelling to a politically unstable country.
Top 10 tips for amicable child arrangements
- Talk to the other parent about your plans before booking
- Consider the suitability of the travel destination and the duration of the stay having regard to the ages of the children
- Get the written permission of the other parent
- Provide the other parent with full details of travel arrangements including dates and times of travel
- Provide the other parent with accommodation and contact details
- Make sure you have the children’s passports in your possession in ample time before the holiday, check that they are in date.
- Make sure the children are included on the travel insurance
- Check the entry restrictions - do you need visas
- Consider whether it is desirable/practical for the other parent to have a phone or video contact while you are away – agree those arrangements.
- Even though restrictions are easing, it is essential you check your destination country’s requirements in respect of Covid-19 vaccines and eligibility to travel.
How can we help?
If you are planning to take your child abroad and would like help and advice then please contact our dedicated Family Law team.