With Covid restrictions slowly relaxing, many people are looking to book a summer holiday abroad for themselves and their families. As a result, many parents who are divorced or separated may be wondering about the legalities of taking their child abroad on holiday, and whether any permission from the other parent is required.
Do I Need Permission?
Unless you have legal responsibility for the child or the proper consent, taking your child out of the country will be considered child abduction. No permission is needed to take the child on holiday within England and Wales unless there is a Court Order in place that states otherwise. If you are travelling to Scotland, this may amount to taking the child abroad, as you will be taking the child from one legal system to another.
The only way to take a child outside of England and Wales without permission from someone with parental responsibility or from a Court is if you have a Child Arrangements Order in place specifying that the child must live with you. If you do not have one of these in place, then you will need permission to take the child abroad.
A parent with such an order can take the child outside of England and Wales for a maximum of 28 days, provided that there is nothing in the Order preventing this, such as specific contact time of the other parent. If the intended period of travel is more than 28 days, then permission will be needed.
It is highly recommended that even if you do not legally need permission that you gain permission or at least inform the other parent that you will be taking the child abroad in order to avoid any issues.
If there is no such Order in place, then you cannot take the child abroad without the consent of everyone with parental responsibility for the child – find out who has parental responsibility from our article here. In most cases, this will only be the consent of each of the parents. Even if you have parental responsibility, you will need permission if you do not have a Child Arrangements Order stating that the child must live with you.
What Do I Need to Take if I Have All the Correct Permissions?
A letter from the person with parental responsibility for the child is usually enough to show that you have permission to take the child abroad. This permission should be in writing and can be obtained directly or through solicitors. You may be asked to provide this permission at a UK or foreign border. The letter of permission should contain the other person’s contact details and details about the trip.
It is also wise to bring evidence of your relationship with the child, such as a birth or adoption certificate, as well as a divorce or marriage certificate if your family name is different from your child’s.
What If I Can’t Get Consent?
If you cannot get consent from one or more persons with parental responsibility, then you will need to the Court for a Specific Issue Order before you take the child abroad. The Court gives permission more frequently than it does not, but there is no guarantee that it will give permission. The Court will look at the best interests of the child when deciding whether to allow the holiday, taking into account a checklist of welfare factors.
How Can I Prevent the Other Parent From Taking my Child Abroad?
If you have parental responsibility for your child and you do not agree for them to be taken abroad, then you should notify the other parent as soon as possible. If this is unlikely to help, then you can apply to the Court to prevent the child’s removal from England and Wales. The Court can make a Prohibited Steps Order to stop the parent taking the child abroad. You can also apply for the Court to take away the child’s passport.
The Court is able to make a temporary order preventing the child from being removed from England and Wales until a hearing is organised.
As always, the child’s welfare will be the Court’s main consideration when deciding upon the issue.
As this is a quick guide, it is strongly recommended that you consult with a legal professional if you have any issues relating to child arrangements. Stella Maris Solicitors LLP are a law firm offering expertise in Family Law based in Swindon. To book an appointment, telephone 01793 296118 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.