At this time of year clients often ask me whether they need permission from the other parent to take their child on holiday.
The short answer, yes you do. Unless you have an Order of the Court, you must have the permission of all persons with parental responsibility before you can take your child outside of England & Wales; strictly speaking if you do not have this permission, then you are committing the offence of child abduction.
This situation is however different where one parent has a Residence Order or, is named as the resident parent under a Child Arrangements Order as this has the effect of allowing the child’s resident parent to take a child abroad for up to a month without the written consent of the other parent. However, it is good parenting to notify the other parent and agree arrangements in advance.
In order to evidence permission of the other parent, you should obtain a letter signed by them as this may be required by border control and in the event of any dispute should your ex-partner alert the police or issue a ‘port alert.’ If your surname is different to that of the child, it is useful to take with you a copy of the child’s birth certificate and a copy of your marriage certificate or Decree Absolute to avoid any difficulties in travel.
What happens if the other parent doesn’t give their permission?
If your ex-partner does not provide the appropriate consent or specifically objects to the holiday, then you should contact a specialist family solicitor as an application for a Specific Issue Order enabling you to take the holiday maybe required.
If your ex-partner does have parental responsibility for the child then they can prevent you from going on holiday by applying to the Court for a Prohibited Steps Order.
If either of these applications are made, the Court will assess whether it is in the child’s best interests for the holiday to be allowed and, more often than not, will give permission for a parent to take a child on holiday if the intention is made clear that they will be returned. It is likely that the Court will direct that the parent taking the holiday should share information such as the child’s accommodation, contact details in case of emergency and flight details.
However, it is not unusual, particularly in families where there are international connections, for either parent to be anxious that the child may not be returned. If you do have these concerns, you should instruct a family solicitor urgently who will prepare an emergency application to prevent the removal of the child from the jurisdiction; any delay in an application may result in the child being taken out of the jurisdiction and it is then considerably more difficult and expensive to locate the child and ensure their return to this country.
If you have any concerns about abduction and need some legal advice on the issue, contact our family team.