Can I Take My Child on Holiday if I am Separated?
The short answer is no and as we move into the summer holidays, despite the recent tumultuous times, many people in Ormskirk, Southport, and across the UK, will be thinking of holidays and this family law issue is likely to affect many people across the region.
In order to take your child abroad or on holiday abroad, you will require the written consent of every person who has parental responsibility for the child or the consent of the Court.
This means that if you wish to take your child on holiday abroad to another jurisdiction or various destinations, and the other parent who has parental responsibility does not agree, then you cannot take them.
The only exceptions to this are:
- You have a Child Arrangements order “live with” (a CAO) or what used to be called a Residence Order
- You have a Court Order giving consent
If you have a CAO, you are entitled to remove your child from the jurisdiction for a period of less than one month without the other parent’s written consent, (who has parental responsibilities) or permission.
The parent without the CAO will still need the consent of the other parent.
If a father, for example, does not yet have parental responsibility, the mother can take the child out of the jurisdiction.
However, if the father has made an application for parental responsibility or has a CAO, the mother should not take the child out of the jurisdiction, until the matter has been determined by a Court.
What if… ‘The other parent is just being difficult, the holiday would be really good for the child. We have both been through a hard time and the holiday would be great for us.’
Even if the other parent is being unreasonable and still will not give permission, you will need to make an application to the Court under Section 8 of the Children Act for CAO or a Specific Issue Order.
Essentially, this is the Court’s permission for you to remove the child from the jurisdiction for the purposes of a holiday.
Consent Via Court Order
When considering an application under the Children Act, the Court will consider what is in the best interests of the child, and this will be the Court’s main concern.
Generally, the Courts are unlikely to prevent a child from going on holiday with the other parent if that holiday is on the face of it enjoyable, especially if the children are able to express a clear wish to go on holiday and the parent undertakes (a promise to the court) to return the child at the end of the holiday.
An objecting parent would have to come up with very good reasons as to why a holiday was not in the child’s best interest.
In previous instances, objecting parents have been concerned that:
- The child will miss school
- The parent wishing to go on holiday (travelling parent) has incomplete and inappropriate travel plans and arrangements
- The parent is not well, or the child’s health was such that a holiday was not in the child’s interest
Some parents are concerned that the holiday is a ruse for abducting the child and not returning them to the jurisdiction.
For the Court to consider this, there would have to be a very clear identifiable concern.
The Courts are also likely to be more cautious in this regard when the application involves a holiday in a non-Hague Convention country such as Afghanistan, Egypt and Thailand.
The father of a child does not have automatic parental responsibility.
A mother always has parental responsibility.
Acquiring Parental Responsibility
There are a number of ways in which a father (or any other person) can acquire parental responsibility:
- By being married to the child’s mother at the time of the child’s birth
- By registering the child’s birth jointly with the mother
- By entering into a Parental Responsibility Agreement with the child’s mother
- Getting a CAO “live with” or a having a Residence Order
Parental Responsibility Agreement
A Parental Responsibility Agreement is a written agreement between the child’s mother and father (or any other person) which gives that person parental responsibility.
- The agreement can be entered into at any time after the birth of the child.
- It can be revoked or varied by agreement at any time between the parties.
- It can also be revoked or varied by a court order.
What is Parental Responsibility?
Parental responsibility means all the rights, duties, powers, responsibilities and authority, which by law a parent of a child has in relation to the child and their property.
A person with parental responsibility can make all decisions which are likely to affect the child’s welfare. This includes decisions about:
- The child’s education
- The child’s health, including any medical treatment
- Where the child should live and with whom they should live with
- Whether the child should have a religious upbringing
- Whether the child should be allowed to change their name
Parents with Parental Responsibility can make day to day decisions on their own (such as routine dental treatment) but anything ”big” should be done in agreement and if agreement cannot be reached, the court can be asked to make a decision as to what should happen.
The following people have parental responsibility for a child:
- The child’s mother (whether married to the child’s father or not)
- The child’s father (if he was married to the child’s mother at the time of the child’s birth)
- A person who has been granted a Residence Order or a Child Arrangements Order “live with” in respect of the child
- A person who has been granted a Special Guardianship Order in respect of the child
Other Parent’s Written Consent
If the other parent does not have parental responsibility, they must give their written consent in order for the child to be taken out of the country, unless there is a Court Order in place stating otherwise.
The travelling parent must take reasonable steps to obtain the other parent’s consent before making travel plans and is advisable to put the request and response in writing, to avoid any misunderstanding at a later stage.
Both parents’ consent is required on a passport application form if the child is under 16 years old, unless there is a Court Order in place stating otherwise.
If only one parent has parental responsibility, they can apply for the child’s passport without the other parent’s consent.
The parent must provide a copy of the child’s birth certificate and evidence of their own identity.
If the other parent has a Residence Order, or a CAO “live with” they can apply for the child’s passport without the consent of the person.
If any person has a Special Guardianship Order, they can apply for the child’s passport without the consent of any other person with parental responsibility.
If there is a Court Order in place stating that one parent does not have parental responsibility, that parent will not be able to apply for the child’s passport.
We have advised many people across Ormskirk, Southport, Wigan, Lancashire and Merseyside in relation to family law matters such as:
- Divorce & Separation
- Financial matters following divorce or dissolution
- Issues (involving a child or numerous young people) such as residence and contact
- Cohabitation agreements
- Pre-nuptial agreements and financial protection
- Civil partnerships
- Domestic violence and injunctions involving family members, current partner and or ex partner
- Care proceedings
- Child arrangement order(s)
- Legal Aid and other services.
We have been established over 200 years and one of the oldest firms in the North West.
We are experienced in all aspects of family law and have a proven track record in representing both mothers and fathers in applications to the Court.
Summary – Taking Your Child Abroad
You cannot take a child out of his or her jurisdiction without the other parent’s consent unless you have a Residence Order, Child Arrangements order “live with” or Court Order, giving you permission to do so.
If the other parent objects to you taking the child out of the jurisdiction, you will need to make an application to the court for a Specific Issue Order under local laws.
Our specialist family lawyers are here to help you.
We offer a free initial consultation where we will listen to your particular circumstances and explain the options available to you.
If you are concerned by another parent’s wish to take the child on holiday or wish to take your child on holiday but the other parent will not agree, we would recommend that you discuss the matter carefully with our experienced family law solicitor, Alexandra Kenyon.
To make an appointment or for up to date advice on taking a child abroad when families and or parents are separated, please call us on 01695 574 201 or 01704 504381 or email us by clicking here.