Can I take my children abroad after divorce?

With the excitement of an impending trip abroad, it can be easy for separated and divorced parents to overlook some of the issues they may encounter on taking their children out of the country. Here we advise on some of the potential problems.

Do I need permission from my ex-partner to take my child abroad?

Yes. When taking a child out of the country, all those with parental responsibility need to have given their consent. All mothers automatically have parental responsibility (unless there is a court order removing this status) and all fathers named on a birth certificate also have this automatic right. In this instance, where separated and divorced parents have shared responsibility, you must have the consent of each other. The only exception is where the parent travelling has a child arrangement order stating that the child can only live with them or a court order that grants them permission to take the child abroad.


What if my ex-partner doesn’t consent?

If an ex-partner withholds or withdraws consent, a court order can be applied for to allow the trip. In this instance, we would recommend taking legal advice.


What if I have a different surname to my child?

To avoid any problems at the border ensure you have all the documentation you may need to prove your relationship to the child, to avoid charges of child abduction and trafficking.


What documentation do I need?

To prove your relationship with the child and that you have permission to take them abroad, we would suggest taking the following documents:

  • The child’s birth or adoption certificate.
  • Your wedding/divorce certificate or change of name deed if you have a different surname to your child.
  • A letter of consent from your ex-partner and/or those with parental responsibility for the child, including contact details.
  • If you have an expired passport in the name, you held when the child was born.

The rules within different destination countries can be different, so do ensure you take everything needed to prove your parental responsibility and the consent of an ex-partner. Further details can be found here


We have extensive experience in dealing with children matters. If you would like to talk to a family lawyer about this or any other issue pertaining to family breakdown, separation, and divorce, we offer an initial no obligation 60-minute appointment for £50 (incl. VAT).

We can arrange this in person at our office in Haywards Heath or on a video call. To book an appointment please call 01444 472700, email or complete the form below.

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