With summer holiday’s around the corner, it is imperative to consider the legal implications of taking your child abroad and or agreeing to holiday contact arrangements.
We are aware of situations arising where children with different surnames to the parent they are travelling with, have been stopped at the airport by officials requiring proof that the other parent consents to the child going abroad.
With border control agencies tightening up on this issue, it is advised that you obtain a letter, email or even a text message to show the other parent approves the holiday plans and that you have let them know when you will be back. You may also have to travel with other ID documents, such as a certified copy of the child’s birth certificate naming both parents. National Legal Service Solicitors are able to certify copies of passports for clients for a small fee.
When taking children on holiday abroad, if there are no court orders in place as to any of the children arrangements since the parents separated, there is nothing to prevent the de facto primary carer from taking the children abroad for a family holiday. However, if the other parent has parental responsibility for one / all of the children, then attempts should be made to consult with that parent about the intended holiday, providing details of where you intend to go, where you will be staying and intended return flight details. If the other parent agrees to those plans, you could ask them to put that consent in writing so there is no doubt as to the permission having been obtained. Similarly, if it is not possible to consult with the other parent, due to the whereabouts being unknown or serious domestic abuse, for example, then provided there are no orders in place, you are able to take that holiday abroad. However, if the other parent has parental responsibility but objects to the holiday plans and will not provide clear consent, the parent objecting to the holiday will have to apply to the court for an order preventing the removal of the children from the UK. Both parents will be directed to file evidence in respect of the application, CAFCASS may become involved and asked to make a recommendation and the family court will decide whether the holiday can take place and if so, it will grant permission. All decisions relating to children in this respect are dealt with under s.8 of the Children Act 1989 and the court’s paramount concern is the child’s welfare. There is a checklist that is adopted in this type of decision and that can be found at s.1(2) of the Children Act 1989. If you have any issues relating to whether you need permission to leave the UK for a family holiday, please seek early legal advice as all cases depend on the full circumstances and the information within this blog can not be relied upon in respect of your situation without first seeking full clarity from one of our legal team.
If a Court Order is in place to prevent you taking your child abroad without permission and you do so, intentionally or not, it may be considered as international child abduction.
If you have a Child Arrangements Order (CAO) confirming a child lives with you, then in those circumstances you can take your child out of the UK for up to 28 days without the need for consent. However, it is best you notify the other parent of the planned holiday, particularly if there are any contact arrangements that may be impacted by the holiday. You may need to seek legal advise about what to do if a planned holiday may put you in breach of a CAO – spend time with order. One of our legal team can assist you in this and to check the terms of any CAO that is in place as the wording of your particular order is key to what you can/can’t do in terms of whether there is any flexibility around holidays, for example.
If you are looking to move abroad with your child you must obtain agreement from the other parent. Even if they do not have Parental Responsibility there should be discussions. This is so new contact arrangements can be planned for and made and it can stop any late attempts to prevent your intended move by way of formal court applications. This can be a complicated issue and early legal advice is essential to prevent and disappointment, for example, if the court does not grant permission for the relocation.
During the summer holidays, separated parents quite often wish to vary the existing regular contact arrangements. It is good to discuss your plans early so that if there are any disagreements, these can be smoothed out before the summer holidays arrive. A lot will depend on whether there is an existing court order or whether the existing arrangements have been agreed outside of court. If you are a parent with concerns about taking your child on holiday, or you want to stop your child being taken abroad, contact our specialist family law team on 0203 601 5051