Holidaying Abroad with Children in Separated Familes with Alison Fielden & Co

Open for advice.

Frequently issues arise for separated parents when they mention to the other the prospect of taking their children on holiday, be it in England and Wales, or abroad.

Many parents are unaware that it is a criminal offence to take their child out of England and Wales without the permission of every person who has parental responsibility for the child unless permission of the Family Court has been granted.

However, if a Child Arrangements Order (formerly known as a Residence Order) has been made by the Court stating that a child is to live with a particular parent then that parent may take their child out of England and Wales for up to four weeks at a time without permission from the other parent, provided the holiday will not conflict with time that a court order provides would ordinarily spend with the other parent. If the intended period of travel is longer than 28 days then permission from everyone with parental responsibility or authority from the Court is required.

If the other parent does not give consent to take a child on holiday then an application can be made to the Court for a Specific Issue Order. This type of court application would ask the court for authority to remove the child from England and Wales for the purpose of the proposed holiday.

Sometimes one parent may seek to prevent the other taking their child on holiday, for instance, where they feel that the proposed holiday may not be in the best interests of the child for some particular reason. This may be, for example, because the holiday is proposed in school time or is to a high risk destination. In these circumstances the concerned parent can make an application to the Court for a Prohibited Steps Order: an order preventing the proposed holiday from taking place.

Whenever the Court is asked to consider an application dealing with children, the court’s paramount consideration will be the child’s welfare.

Making a court application is an expensive, time consuming process and it can often damage relations between parents, when they should be working together to best meet their child’s needs. Court proceedings should always be viewed as a last resort.

It is sensible to try and agree arrangements for sharing holiday time as soon as the holiday timetable for the school year is known. Speak to the other parent setting out suggestions for division of time for each holiday and highlighting any proposed holidays abroad. Give full details of such holidays including: destination, dates, accommodation address, telephone numbers, flight numbers etc as soon as they are known. It is essential to parents that they are made aware of where their child is going on holiday in case of an emergency.

If you are unable to reach agreement with the other parent then you should consult with a specialist familysolicitor in order to discuss the best approach for making progress. The usual options are further negotiations via solicitors, mediation or court proceedings.

When taking a child abroad do remember:

1. Contact the airline you are travelling with to notify them and see if they have any advice about what documents to carry with you or the specific entry requirements of the country you are travelling to.

2. Each country can have different rules about travelling with children. You can contact the relevant embassy in the UK to ask and find out up to what age their country considers people children and check what extra documentation, if any, is needed.

3. Make sure you have any extra documents you need with you when you travel. Documents to help prove your relationship with your child may include a birth certificate, adoption certification and marriage or divorce certificates.
Take a copy of the Child Arrangements Order or the other parent’s consent with you.

At Alison Fielden & Co Heather Weavill and Steven Barratt are accredited Family Law Specialists and can assist you in all family matters. To arrange an appointment telephone 01285 653261.

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