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Taking your children on holiday after a Divorce

Family holidays can be stressful enough, so what if you’re separated or divorced and need to work around a tricky relationship with your ex? It is essential to consider a few key factors and specific steps to ensure a smooth and successful vacation.

Do you need permission to take your child abroad?

You must get permission of everyone with parental responsibility for a child to take a child abroad. You should obtain this permission in writing.

The exception to this is when you have a Child Arrangements Order which states that your child lives with you. If you have a Child Arrangements Order confirming that your child lives with you, you can take your child abroad for a period of less than 28 days without requiring permission.

Who has Parental Responsibility?

Mothers automatically have parental responsibility.

A father will have parental responsibility if:

  • They were married to the mother at birth or they got married after
  • They are named on the birth certificate
  • The court have made a Parental Responsibility Order
  • They have entered into a Parental Responsibility Agreement with the mother

If anyone else has parental responsibility, such as the local authority, you will also require their permission.

What if your ex refuses to provide permission to take your child on holiday?

If you require their permission, you should try to speak with your ex-partner about holidays as far in advance of the holiday as possible. You will need to be transparent with the other parent regarding the details of the holiday including flight and hotel details.

In most cases, it is in the best interests of the child to go on holiday with the parent and the parent providing consent should not unreasonably withhold the consent.

Consent should be provided in writing. It’s worthwhile taking a copy of your child’s birth certificate with you and also checking the entry requirements of the country you are travelling to.

If a parent is unreasonably withholding their consent to a holiday abroad, you may need to apply to the Court for a Specific Issue Order. This can take several weeks and therefore seeking permission early is important.

It may be reasonable to withhold consent to a holiday if there is a genuine objection concerning your child’s welfare. There may be many reasons which would be considered reasonable such as a genuine concern of abduction or travel to a high risk country. Where there is a genuine concern, a parent may be able to stop you from going abroad with your child.

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How can you prevent your ex from taking a child abroad

If you have genuine concerns about your ex-partner taking your child abroad , you may wish to consider an application to the Court for a Prohibited Steps Order. This is an order preventing someone with parental responsibility from exercising an aspect of that parental responsibility, in this case taking the child abroad.

There are further steps that can be taken if there is an immediate risk of the child being abducted such as obtaining an all port alert order.

It’s important to remember each case is unique, and the appropriate steps to take your child abroad or to prevent your ex-partner from taking your child abroad may vary based on your specific circumstances. It’s important to seek legal advice from a solicitor to ensure you are following the correct legal procedures and protecting your child’s best interests.

What next?

If you’re concerned, or if these issues directly concern you or your child, please reach out to one of our family law specialists today for more information.

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    Please note that this briefing is designed to be informative, not advisory and represents our understanding of English law and practice as at the date indicated. We would always recommend that you should seek specific guidance on any particular legal issue.

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