Harjit Rait, Family Law partner with Yorkshire law firm LCF Law, discusses issues of travel, holidays, and children where the parents are separated.
The festive season is fast approaching, and as many families choose to go on holiday over the Christmas holidays, not many people are aware that if they are separated or divorced and wish to take their children on holiday with them, even if it is during their time with the children, they will need the consent of the other parent to travel abroad.
If, however, there is a Residence Order or Child Arrangements Order, as they are known, confirming that the children live with you, you can take the children out of the UK for up to 28 days without the consent of the other parent.
It is still however good practice to obtain such consent, even though it is not technically needed, to avoid potential last-minute difficulties.
Parents as holders of Parental Responsibility have a duty to consult each other and agree important decisions regarding their children’s lives such as which school they are to attend, planned non-routine medical or dental treatment etc.
Day-to-day decisions can be determined by the parent caring for the children without consultation with the other parent.
Consent to take the children on holiday falls somewhere between the two.
It is the duty of the parent seeking to go on holiday with the children to notify the other parent and obtain their consent to take the children abroad otherwise, technically, the parent travelling may commit the offence of child abduction.
If a parent refuses to provide consent, then it will be necessary to apply to the Court for a Specific Issue Order to allow the children to travel abroad.
In all cases, the Court’s main concern is the welfare of the children and if you are opposing a holiday, you will need to have very valid reasons for doing so.
Early planning is vital to ensure unnecessary stress in the run up to the proposed holiday and to avoid potential disappointment.
The advice is to provide the other parent/holder of Parental Responsibility with all the details of the holiday to include dates of travel, destination, and address of residence abroad and get their consent in writing.
Ensure that you take such correspondence with you when travelling, it could be as vital as your passport and ticket.