As the school summer holidays approach, many parents have rushed to secure a long-anticipated break.
However, before going to the expense of booking flights and hotels, separated parents ought to consider not only potential travel disruption and any COVID restrictions applicable to their destination, but also their legal position as a separated parent.
Separated parents often assume, particularly if they are the primary carer for their child, that they are under no obligation to notify the other parent of their holiday plans. However, they could potentially find themselves on the wrong side of child abduction laws if they take their child abroad without the other parent’s knowledge or consent.
It is therefore a good idea to consult the other parent before committing to any travel arrangements or paying a hefty deposit. Set out below are some important considerations which we hope will assist those parents planning a break.
Who has parental responsibility?
The starting point should be to check whether the other parent has parental responsibility for the child. Mothers are automatically granted parental responsibility on birth, whereas the father of the child will have parental responsibility if he was married to the mother or was entered as the father on the child’s birth certificate.
Alternatively, it may be that the father acquired parental responsibility at a later stage, either by entering into a formal agreement with the mother or by obtaining a formal court order.
Different rules apply to same sex couples, adoptive parents and step-parents.
If one parent doesn’t have parental responsibility, can the other parent take the children on holiday without the other’s consent?
Assuming there is no court order in place regulating the arrangements for the child, then the parent with parental responsibility should be able to take the child out of the jurisdiction without the other’s consent.
That being said, it remains good practice to consult the other parent and make them aware of the proposed trip, particularly if they maintain regular contact with the child.
Top tip: In addition, if the child bears a different surname to the parent taking them on the holiday, it is often a good idea to travel with a certified copy of the birth certificate in order to avoid any difficulties or awkward questions at passport control.
Top tip: Some countries have additional travel requirements or border checks for children, so do check in advance of travel.