Travelling [anywhere] for Christmas…

Many parents will be looking forward to a holiday with their children over the Christmas holidays.  What about separated parents, and their plans to travel abroad?

Scenario 1

Parents are separated but have reached their own agreement for the children, without involving the court.  In this case, the travelling parent must have the consent of everyone who has parental responsibility for the children, before they can take the children abroad.

Scenario 2

Parents have separated.  There is a court order setting out that the children live with their father and spend time with their mother.  In this case, father can take the children abroad for up to 28 days without needing to have mother’s consent.  Mother would need father’s consent.

Scenario 3

Children live with their aunt, under a Special Guardianship Order.  The aunt may take the children abroad for up to three months, without needing the consent of the parents.

Scenario 4

The parents have separated.  Mother wants to take the children abroad but father does not consent.  Mother must apply to court for a specific issue order, giving her permission from the court to travel abroad with the children.

Scenario 5

The parents have separated.  Father fears that mother will take the children abroad, and has good reason to think that this would not be in the best interests of the children.  Father must make an application to court for a prohibited steps order, forbidding mother from taking the children out of the jurisdiction.

Things to think about

Think about how the other parent is feeling.  Be respectful and keep them informed. Let them know you’ve arrived safely at your destination.  Think about how contact between the other parent and the children will continue while you are away.  Would skype or facetime be suitable?  Think about making up missed time afterwards.  Think about the interests of the children, not the adults.

It is good practice to obtain written consent from the other parent, whatever your circumstances.  A letter, including the other parent’s contact details, and details of the trip is usually sufficient.  Keep the letter with your travel documents.  If you have a court order stating that the children live with you, keep a copy of that with your documents too.   It is prudent to take a copy of the child’s birth certificate or adoption certificate with you.  If you have remarried and changed your surname, take a copy of your marriage certificate as well.

If you and your children have different surnames, do not be surprised if you are questioned about your relationship with each child.  Have your documents ready – you can prove your relationship, and show that you have permission to travel.

If you need advice on these, or any other matters about arrangements for children, we offer a free 30 minute initial consultation. Please contact your closest office for more details.

The contents of this article are for the purposes of general awareness only. They do not constitute legal or professional advice. The law may have changed since this article was published. Readers should not act on the basis of the information included and should take appropriate professional advice upon their own particular circumstances.

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