You’ve booked the holiday, ordered the foreign currency and packed the sun tan lotion, but have you checked the formalities for taking your children abroad?
You must have the permission of everyone with Parental Responsibility before you take a child abroad. If you don’t, you are committing the offence of child abduction. The only exception to this if you have a Child Arrangements Order which provides that your child/ren should live with you and there is no court order stating that you must not take the child abroad. In these circumstances, you may take your child out of the country for periods of up to 28 days without obtaining the permission of others with Parental Responsibility.
So, who has Parental Responsibility? The mother always has Parental Responsibility. The father will have Parental Responsibility for the child if he was married to the mother at the time the child was born. If the parents aren’t married, the father will have Parental Responsibility if the child was born after 1st December 2003 and he attended with the mother to register the birth of the child. Alternatively, he will have Parental Responsibility if he has entered into a Parental Responsibility Agreement with the mother or obtained a Parental Responsibility Order from the court.
If the other parent won’t agree to you taking the child abroad, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you can’t take them, but it does mean that you must obtain the court’s permission. The court will want to have as much information as possible about the proposed trips, including dates and times of departure and return, flight numbers, the address of where the children will be staying and contact details for the period when they will be away. The court will make a decision on the basis of the best interests of the children. Usually, if the trip is for the purposes of a holiday, it is not to a destination where the child will be at risk and there is no fear of child abduction, the court will grant permission.
Ensure that you travel with the written permission of the other parent or a copy of any relevant court order.
You may have the permission of the other parent, but what if you and your child have different surnames? In these circumstances it is always advisable to travel with evidence that you are the parent of the children. The long form birth certificate is usually the best document to take as it names both parents.
Many countries have special requirements for children travelling with one parent or neither of their parents (for example, going on holiday with grandparents.) Always check the UK government travel advice https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice and the website of the consulate or embassy for the country in question, before travelling.
For advice on travelling abroad with children and all other family issues, please contact our Head of Family Law, Joanna Toloczko on 020 3861 5155 or at email@example.com.
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