Top tips for taking your child abroad over the summer holidays

During the summer holidays, separated parents quite often wish to vary the existing regular contact arrangements so that they can take their child on holiday abroad for example. It is advisable to discuss your plans early so that if there are any disagreements, these can be smoothed out well in advance of the proposed holiday.

  1. Can I take my child out of the Country for a holiday?

    Border control agencies are tightening up on this issue. When taking a child on holiday abroad, if there have been no court proceedings (and therefore no court orders made) concerning the child, then there is nothing to prevent the primary carer from taking the child abroad for a family holiday. However, it is always better to agree any proposed holiday plans with the other parent before a holiday is booked. If it is not possible to consult with the other parent, due to their whereabouts being unknown or because of serious domestic abuse, for example, then provided there are no court orders in place preventing the removal of the child out of the Country, there would be no issue. It is not advisable to book the holiday until the consent has been given in writing by the other parent.
  2. What documents should I take to the airport?

    If you are separated from your child’s other parent, then it is advisable to obtain a letter, email or even a text message from them to show they approve of the holiday plans and take this with you to the airport. It is also recommended to travel with other ID documents, such as a certified copy of the child’s birth certificate naming both parents.
  3. What if my ex-partner is not willing to give consent to the holiday in writing?

    If the other parent has parental responsibility for the child, 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 objects to the holiday plans and will not provide clear consent, the parent objecting to the holiday has the option of applying to Court for a Prohibited Steps Order, preventing the removal of the child from the UK. The parent intending on taking the child abroad also has the option of applying to Court for a Specific Issue Order, seeking the Court’s permission. Once court proceedings commence, both parents will be directed to file evidence in respect of the application, and ultimately the Court will decide whether permission is granted for the child to go on holiday. This can be a lengthy process and should be a last resort. We would recommend attempting mediation in the first instance as this would be expected by the Court. Timing is important as if a court application is not made within good time, then there is a risk that the matter may not be decided until after the planned holiday. All decisions relating to children in this respect are dealt with under section 8 of the Children Act 1989 and the Court’s paramount concern is the child’s welfare. 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 child abduction.
  4. What if I hold a Child Arrangements Order which states that my child lives with me?

    In those circumstances, you are able to take your child out of the UK for up to a period of 28 days without the need of the Court’s permission or the other parent’s consent. However, it is better to notify the other parent of the proposed holiday, allowing sufficient time to make arrangements for any pre-arranged contact that will have been impacted by the holiday. If there is a Child Arrangements Order in place which provides for contact with the other parent, then you may need to seek legal advice if any proposed holiday places you in breach of the Order.

If you have any queries or would like to discuss any aspect further then please contact Julie Keogh or Laura Martin on 01258 483605 or or 

Blanchards Bailey

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