Travelling abroad with children

With the school summer holidays fast approaching, many parents are planning to take their children on holiday abroad.

With the school summer holidays fast approaching, many parents are planning to take their children on holiday abroad.

Separated parents are often unaware that they may be required to obtain permission from the other parent in order to take a child out of the UK (i.e. anywhere other than England and Wales). The legal requirements for obtaining permission will vary in accordance with what Children Act Order has been made, if any.

The legal starting point is to consider who has parental responsibility. If both parents have parental responsibility and there is no Child Arrangements Order – Live With (previously known as a residence order) in place, then neither parent can take a child outside of the UK without the written consent of the other parent (and any other party with parental responsibility). This rule applies, whether or not parents are separated.

If there is a Child Arrangements Order in place which specifies who the child is to live with (the resident parent), then the resident parent does not require the written consent of the non-resident parent to take the child outside the UK for a period of up to 28 days, providing that this does not interrupt any contact arrangements that the child may have with the non-resident parent.

If a parent is unable to agree matters with the other parent (or parties with parental responsibility), it may be necessary to apply to the Court for a Specific Issue Order requesting the court to grant permission to travel outside of the jurisdiction with a child. Alternatively, if a parent who has refused consent fears that the other parent will still take steps to remove the child from the UK an application to the Court for a Prohibited Steps Order to prevent the child from being taken out of the UK by the other parent may be required.

When making any decision about a child the court’s primary consideration is the welfare of that child.

It is crucial to seek expert legal advice so that parents are fully aware of the issues, and can be fully advised on the particular issues specific to their case.

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