Few people are aware that legally if you want to take your child out of the jurisdiction of England and Wales, even for a holiday, both you and the other parent will have to agree to the removal if you both have parental responsibility (unless there is an order in place for the child to live with you which allows a removal for up to 28 days without the consent of the other parent, or if an order specifically refers to the removal from the jurisdiction).

If you are considering taking your child out of the jurisdiction, I suggest you act as follows:

  • Discuss matters with the other parent. It is always best to try and reach agreement with the other parent either directly yourself, with the help of a solicitor or at mediation with a trained mediator.
  • If you are able to agree matters in this way, a document can be signed by both parties which can then be provided at the airport, if necessary, to confirm the absent parent’s consent.

If you are unable to agree the removal with the other parent and have been to mediation you could:

  • Apply to the court for a specific issue order

The Court would need to consider the specific issue of whether you are able to move with your child or take them out of the jurisdiction on holiday.

The court will consider what is best for your child. You will need to provide as much information as you can concerning the relocation/holiday for the court to consider including:

  • Details of the reason for wanting to go abroad;
  • Proposals for the child to spend time with the absent parent including when the child will see them and how this will/not affect the child;
  • Information about the proposed accommodation abroad and travel, including when you intend on returning the children to the UK;

If a permanent move:

  • Evidence of any opportunities which are on offer in the other jurisdiction, including job offers, family links and social networks;
  • Evidence of proposed education arrangements including availability of places;
  • Evidence of the health care possibilities abroad, particularly if the child has any medical difficulties;
  • Evidence of the child’s knowledge of or experience of the other jurisdiction and how any language difficulties might be overcome.

I must stress that it is always better to try and reach agreement without involving the Court.  However, if you are unable to do this, the Court is always available to assist. Obtaining advice at an early stage is likely to be advantageous and may help you reach an agreement.

Mark Smith, a Partner in Stephens Scown’s family team, has further advice for parents looking to relocate with children, including how to minimise any transition issues for the child during the process.