A guide for separated parents wishing to travel abroad
As a separated parent there are things to consider before committing to a holiday.
The legal position will depend on who has parental responsibility and whether there is a court order.
Where there is a court order
If a parent has a child arrangements order that the child lives with them, they can take the child out of the jurisdiction for up to 28 days without the others consent unless there is a separate prohibited steps or specific issue order dealing with the issue of holidays.
Where there is no court order
If there is no court order, then the consent of every person with parental responsibly will be needed. A mother always has parental responsibility. A father or second parent has it if they are named on the birth certificate, are married to the mother at the time of the child’s birth or they have a parental responsibility agreement or order.
How to obtain consent
It is advisable to discuss and agree the holiday with the other parent before booking the same. Provide details such as destination, travel dates and accommodation. Offer to make up missed contact visits.
Whilst verbal consent is all that is required it is certainly preferable to obtain written consent either by letter, email, or text.
Some countries may have specific rules. If in doubt check with the Embassy of the country you are travelling to and find out their requirements.
Once consent is obtained and the holiday is booked make sure you provide the other parent with details of the flights, accommodation and an emergency contact number.
Plan for the handover of the child’s passport in good time.
When you travel it may be helpful to have a copy of the child’s birth certificate and if your name has changed since the birth evidence of the name change such as a marriage certificate, final order of divorce or change of name deed.
What to do if consent is refused
You can apply to the court for permission to travel.
Permission is usually granted as a holiday will be seen as being in the child’s best interest.
The courts are not keen on travel outside of term time.
Permission may not be granted if the child rarely stays with the parent applying or if staying contact has only recently started.
Permission is unlikely to be granted if the Foreign Office do not advise travel to a particular destination or if there is a genuine risk of abduction.
The court is unlikely to deal with the application as an emergency hence the need to speak to the other parent and try to obtain consent as soon as possible and not book the holiday without consent.
At the current time an application to the court is likely to take at least 4 months.
To talk to one of our family law advisers, please call us on 01689 887887.