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When you are thinking of taking your children abroad, there is a lot to think about, especially when there are child arrangements in place.
Determining who has parental responsibility is key. If both parents have parental responsibility, and there are no child arrangements orders or any restrictions in place, then neither of you can take the child abroad without the written consent of the other person with parental responsibility. If they refuse to give consent, you will have to apply to Court for permission to travel abroad with them. These applications can take time, so apply several months before the holiday.
If however you have what used to be known as a ‘Residence Order’, or now known as a Main Care Arrangement Order, then you can travel abroad with the child for 28 days without permission. This is the same for a mother, who alone has parental responsibility. She can take her child abroad without permission if there are no other orders or restrictions in place. In practice I recommend that you agree the arrangements in advance though with the other person with parental responsibility.
There is nothing to stop the other parent from applying at Court for what is known as a Prohibited Steps Order to stop the child travelling abroad. To appease the other parent, I always advise that at the beginning of each school year (September) you consult with the other parent and agree dates for you both to travel with the child throughout the year. This should not be restricted to the summer holidays.
Make sure arrangements are made for handing over the child’s passport and forward these documents to the other, ahead of the holiday:
a. Dates of departure and arrival
b. Accommodation details
c. Flight details
d. Contact numbers
Make sure that your written permission will stand up at the airport. I have had parents in tears before because they are checking in at the airport with the children and the “permission” they thought they had was insufficient for border control to allow them to travel with the child. Some airports are more thorough than others, but I always advise that you obtain a letter from the person with parental responsibility allowing them to travel and ensure that letter includes their contact details. Always bring your child’s birth certificate to show your relationship with the child and if necessary, any Court Order.
Be careful when your surname is different to the child’s. You may need your marriage certificate or decree absolute to show your previous surname, or a change of name deed, if applicable.
I advise that you also check the age limit up to which the person is considered as a child in the country you are travelling to. Check with the embassy or consular office where necessary as that may avoid the above having to take place.
So in summary, happy holiday planning-but beware of the above and if in doubt, speak to the other person with parental responsibility, to avoid any headache later.
We are a firm of solicitors in Coventry – if you wish to book an appointment with a family solicitor, please contact us on 024 76 53 1532.