Can I take my child abroad?

With the Summer holidays in full swing, many separated parents will be asking themselves whether they are able to take their child abroad for a well deserved holiday.

In order take a child out of the United Kingdom, whether that is for a short break or on a long term basis, consent must be given by everyone who has parental responsibility for the child. Permission must be obtained unless there is a Court Order that either specifically states that one parent can take a child abroad or there is a Child Arrangements Order in place which states that the child “lives with” one of the parents. The parent with whom the child lives with, in accordance with a court order, is able to take the child out of the UK for a period of up to 28 days without having to seek permission from the other parent, unless expressly prohibited within the Order.

In situations where no Court Order is in place and one parent does not consent to a holiday or withdraws their consent at the last minute, an application for a Specific Issue Order may need to be made to the court. These types of Order can be applied for well in advance of a holiday if permission is not being given, or on an urgent basis if the holiday is within a matter of days and permission has suddenly been withdrawn. It is also possible to claim your legal costs against the other party.

When making a Specific Issue Order or any other Order under Section 8 of the Children Act 1989, the child’s welfare will always be the court’s first consideration and the court will also take the following into account:
• the wishes and feelings of the child concerned (considered in the light of their age) ,
• the child’s physical, emotional and educational needs
• the likely effect of any change in their circumstances
• their age, sex, background and any characteristics which the court considers relevant
• any harm which they have suffered or are at risk of suffering
• how capable each of the parents are, and any other person in relation to whom the court considers to be relevant of meeting their needs
• the range of powers available to the court under this Act in the proceedings in question.

In cases specifically relating to holidays the court will also consider whether the destination the child is being taken to is a signatory to the Hague Convention, under which it is easier to return abducted children.

Many parents do not realise that taking a child out of the UK without the other parent’s consent is Child Abduction which is a criminal offence.

It is advisable to seek consent well in advance of the proposed holiday to deal with any issues that may arise in good time. If you wish to take you child abroad and are having difficulty getting consent or are concerned that your child is going to be taken out of the country without your agreement and you require advice, then please contact our offices and a member of our team will be more than happy to assist.

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