Separated parents: taking the kids on holiday

22 Aug 2019

Many families are enjoying their summer holidays but for separated parents, the experience can be a stressful one.  As family lawyers we are often asked the following questions.

Do I need the other parent’s permission before I take my child out of the country on holiday?

A parent cannot take their child on holiday abroad without the permission of everyone with parental responsibility.  If they do, it is a criminal offence.
The exception to this is if there is a child arrangements order that provides that your child lives with you.  You can take your child out of the country for periods of 28 days or more without the permission of the court or of everyone with parental responsibility.
It is advisable that when permission is granted, this is put in writing to avoid any confusion over whether permission was granted.  It is also advisable to take the permission slip with you when travelling, especially if the parent does not share the child’s surname.  Border control staff have been known to ask for evidence of the relationship between the individual travelling and the child and evidence of consent.

Who has parental responsibility?

Mothers automatically have parental responsibility. 
Fathers only have automatic parental responsibility in respect of children born after 1 December 2003 where they are named on the birth certificate or if they have been married to the mother.  If you do not have parental responsibility and wish to acquire this, there are ways in which this can be done and it is important that you obtain legal advice. 

If I cannot reach an agreement with the other parent, what options are available to me?

If from the outset of separation, arrangements cannot be made between both parents as to who is having the children and when, including during school holidays and on special days such as Christmas and birthdays, then you should turn to a solicitor or mediator. In the vast majority of cases they will help you reach a compromise. 

If this is not successful, then ultimately court proceedings may need to be issued. If you do wish to take your child on holiday then it is important this subject is brought up with the other parent as early as possible to ensure there is sufficient time to apply to court if need be.  It is important you obtain legal advice from one of our specialist family lawyers.
Should you wish to discuss any family law issue, please contact Joanna Potbury.

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