Where both parents have parental responsibility written consent must be obtained from the other parent in order to take a child out of the UK. Taking your child abroad without permission from the other parent is considered abduction.
“Written consent” should include the other parent’s contact details including, address and a contact telephone number. It is also useful to ensure that the letter specifies how each party is related to the child and perhaps take the child’s original birth certificate. It is also worth checking with your travel agent whether there are any requirements which are specific to the country you intend to travel to.
There are circumstances when permission is not needed:
· Where only one parent has parental responsibility that parent can travel abroad with the child without the permission of the other parent. It is worth remembering that mothers acquire parental responsibility automatically and fathers automatically acquire parental responsibility if they are married to the mother at the time of the child’s birth or they are named on the child’s birth certificate.
· Where there is a Child Arrangement Order, which provides for the child to live with one parent that parent can take the child abroad without written consent from the other parent for up to 28 days.
If grandparents or other family members want to take a child abroad, they will need permission from both parents with parental responsibility, not just from one parent, unless they have a Child Arrangements Order or Special Guardianship Order in relation to this child.
What if your ex does not give consent?
Following a separation it is not unusual for parents to disagree about what is in the best interests of their child and from time to time this can include a dispute about whether a child should be taken abroad.
In these circumstances the parent seeking to take their child abroad can make an application to the Family Court for a Specific Issue Order. If successful, this automatically overrides the other parent’s refusal to allow the child to be taken abroad.
How can you ensure your ex does not take your child abroad?
If you have concerns about your child being taken abroad and as a result you do consent to such travel you can apply to the Family Court for a Prohibited Steps Order, which if granted will prevent the foreign trip taking place.
How to make things easier?
Following the emotional turmoil of separation it is understandable that all sorts of emotions are raised when you hear that your ex wants to take your child abroad.
There are a few practical steps which may help:
· Discuss plans for an overseas holiday as soon as possible, ideally before the holiday is booked.
· Agree to share holiday details such as flight information, any itinerary, and the name, phone number and address of the accommodation. Also provide details of anyone else who will be joining the child on holiday.
· Make sure everyone has contact details for the child’s doctor.
· Provide details of your child’s medical insurance cover.
· Make sure there are arrangements agreed, before the trip, for your child to be able to maintain contact with their other parent whilst on the trip.
It is always better to try to discuss holiday arrangements without relying on the Court to make a decision. Open communication about the plans will prevent misunderstandings or misplaced fears of possible child abduction.
For further information and questions on taking your child/children abroad, parental responsibility and Child Arrangement Orders contact Ceri Thomas on 01204 527777 or Victoria Melling on 01254 268790.