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What should I do if I want to take my child on holiday and their other parent doesn’t agree?

Tuesday, 5 July 2016

air-mattress-704445_640Whether you are taking your children abroad for a day trip to France, a weekend in Rome or a summer long trip with your relatives in India, there are legal rules regarding taking a child out of the UK.

If your child lives with you under a Residence Order or a Child Arrangements Order then you will able to take the child abroad for up to one month.

However, if you are planning a holiday with your child and are not travelling with the other person who shares Parental Responsibility then you will need to ask for written permission, otherwise you could run the risk of being charged with child abduction.

What is Parental Responsibility?

Simply put, Parental Responsibility is a legal term which means having all the responsibilities, rights, duties and powers for a child under the age of 18.

In England and Wales Parental Responsibility is given automatically to the mother of a child. However for fathers it is slightly more complicated.

If when the child was born the mother was married to the father or if they were married at any time later then the father also has Parental Responsibility. If the child was born and registered after 1st December 2003 then the father automatically has Parental Responsibility so long as he is recorded on the child’s birth certificate.

A step parent may acquire Parental Responsibility either through a formal agreement with others who share Parental Responsibility, through a court order, or by adopting a child.

Planning a holiday

If you are planning a holiday with your child and the child does not live with you then you must seek written consent from the other person who shares Parental Responsibility. However, life is not always this simple and for a whole number of different reasons the other parent may not be willing to allow you to take them abroad.

Where possible you should seek consent as early as you possibly can, and preferably before you book any flights or hotels, or request annual leave from work. This will save you any disappointment and financial loss should things not go to plan.

When you approach the other parent you should be prepared to give them as much detail about the holiday as possible. As well as general information about where and when you are travelling, who you are staying with and what activities are planned while you are there, you should also offer more specific details. So make a note of flight numbers, addresses and ensure that you are able to be contacted by phone for the duration of the trip.

If you offer all of these details and the other person with Parental Responsibility still refuses to allow the holiday to take place then you should seek immediate legal advice. A family law solicitor will be able to help you apply to the court for permission to take the child abroad.

The court will then make a decision based on your child’s needs under the Children’s Act (1989) and by weighing up what they think would be in the best interests of the child.

If you are planning a holiday and are concerned that you may not be granted permission to take your child away then please call one of our Family Law team on 020 7611 4848 or click here to arrange a call back.

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