taking children abroad

What are the rules for taking children abroad when your family is separated?

With the Covid restrictions on travel hopefully easing and the children’s summer holidays fast approaching, parents may be thinking about taking their children abroad for a holiday.

It is sometimes misconstrued by parents that they can just take children abroad; they are their children, why shouldn’t they? Unfortunately, this is not correct.

Taking children abroad – parental responsibility and permissions

If both parents have parental responsibility (and there is no court order in place setting out the time that the children spend with both parents), then they will need to agree the arrangements with each other and give permission to the other to enable the child to be taken abroad.

If the arrangements are not agreed, the parent will be committing an offence of Child Abduction if they take the children out of the UK. Sometimes the airports wish to see a document signed by the absent parent, which records this agreement.

What if one parent refuses to consent to the holiday?

If a parent refuses to consent to the trip abroad, an application can be made to the court for something called a specific issue order (an order dealing with a specific issue – in this case, whether the child should be able to be taken on holiday or not).

The court will look at what is best for the child: whether they are allowed to go on holiday or not and the advantages and disadvantages of this. Such an order can be applied for quickly and is usually dealt with by the court swiftly.

It is sensible to have all of the information available to the other parent (and court) to enable a decision to be made such as when the flight times will be, where they will be staying (hotels and area), which airport they will be flying from and if possible, discussions should be had at an early stage as it may be possible to reach an agreement without an application needing to be made to the court.

What if you already have a child arrangements order in place?

If a child arrangements order has been made by the court, the other parties’ permission is not required if the holiday is for less than 28 days as the court order provides for the children to be taken out of the jurisdiction for this time without the other’s consent.

A child arrangements order can also set out the time that the child spends with each parent for the 6 weeks of the holiday so that it is clear and cannot be misconstrued.

If you are thinking about going on holiday and do not have an order confirming the time that the children spend time with you and the other parent, please contact us as we have a team of specialist children solicitors who can help.