IBB Law

Travelling Abroad with Children if you are Separated or Divorced

Travelling Abroad with Children if you are Separated or Divorced

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It is essential to get permission to take a child abroad.

Many families are looking forward to their long-awaited first Easter-Spring Holiday abroad since the pandemic. For many separated parents, the disagreements about where and with whom the children should spend time with is agonising and distressing – with many realising through the new emotional and practical challenges that their family life is not the same.

This includes the requirement for separated parents to get the permission of everyone with Parental Responsibility for a child or from a court before taking the child abroad.

Taking a child abroad without permission is child abduction, even if you are the parent.

You automatically have Parental Responsibility if you’re the child’s mother, but you still need the permission of anyone else with Parental Responsibility before you take the child abroad. If you have a Child Arrangement Order that says the child must live with you, you can take a child abroad for 28 days without getting permission – unless your Court Order says you cannot.  If there is no Child Arrangement Order in place, then it is important to obtain written consent of all those who share Parental Responsibility.

If possible, you should try and communicate with the other parent about your travel plans, providing them with sufficient notice. If they do not want the child to go on holiday they can object and apply to the Court to prevent you from taking the trip. Equally, you can also apply to the Court to obtain permission to take the children on holiday.

Take the necessary steps so that you arrive and return from your holiday without any issues arising.

Before you travel, it is helpful to check the specific requirements for the country you are travelling to, as some countries have stricter requirements and insist on the completion of specific, formal forms, or signed and witnessed written permission.  Check the age limit of when a person is considered to be a child.

Take letters from all persons who hold Parental Responsibility with you. Each letter should include the other persons contact information and confirmation of all the details about the holiday.

If the child has a different surname, then it is important to take their birth certificate.

If you have a Court Order or Parental Responsibility Agreement, then it is advisable to take this with you when you travel.

Obtaining permission from the Court.

If consent has been refused or unreasonably withheld by any person with Parental Responsibility, you can apply to the Family Court for permission to take your child abroad, by applying for a Specific Issue Order. This is an order the Court can make to determine a specific question which has or may arise when parents are not able to agree.  The courts will consider whether taking the child abroad is in their best interests and if the holiday abroad is for a reasonable period and to an acceptable destination. If there are any issues raised by anyone else with Parental Responsibility the court will need to consider these. An application can be made on an emergency basis if you have travel plans and consent by someone else with Parental Responsibility has been unreasonably withheld.

Parental responsibility for separated parents.

If you have parental responsibility for a child but you do not live with them, the other parent must still include you when making important decisions about the child’s life. You do not always need to get the consent of others with Parental Responsibility for routine decisions. However, if you wish to travel with your child abroad it is important that you consult with everyone else with Parental Responsibility and obtain their permission in writing.

Speak to our Family Law specialists

If you wish to find out more about these types of proceedings or need advice about your children or their arrangements moving forward, then please contact our Children and Family Law Team.

Reena Vadera is a Senior Associate in the Family Law team and can be contacted on 01895 207 819 or reena.vadera@ibblaw.co.uk.

To contact the team please call 03456 381 381 or email familylaw@ibblaw.co.uk.