“We’re all going on a summer holiday”; what happens when one parent isn’t travelling with the children.
With the summer holidays fast approaching, parents and children alike are all looking forward to their week or two away in the sun. However, for parents who are separated or parents who will be travelling with the children alone, special consideration needs to be given to whether permission of the other parent is required to take the children out of the country and what form this should take.
Maxine Goble, solicitor in the family team at HMG Bicester, says, “Firstly parents should consider whether they will be taking the children out of the jurisdiction. If parents want to take the children anywhere other than England or Wales, then they will be removing them from the jurisdiction”. This means that a trip to Scotland or Ireland falls into the category of trips where permission from the other parent may need to be sought. If the parent intends to take the children to Devon or Cornwall, then they will not be taking the children out of the jurisdiction and permission is not required, though the other parent should be provided with details of where the children will be staying and travel plans in the same way.
Once this has been considered, parents need to confirm whether they need permission to take the children out of the jurisdiction. In some instances this will not be required, for example, where the parent who is taking the children out of the jurisdiction for the holiday has a residence order in their favour, it doesn’t clash with the children’s contact with the other parent and it is for a period less than 28 days.
If permission is required, then the parent seeking it should provide the other parent with a proposed itinerary for the holiday to include travel and accommodation plans so that they may provide their consent. Maxine adds, “Unfortunately, sometimes parents refuse to do so and if they cannot be persuaded, an application to court will need to be considered, sometimes on an urgent basis if time is short. The parent who wishes to take the children on holiday will need to apply for a Specific Issue Order for the court to give permission on behalf of the other parent. Although an application to court is potentially an expensive process, it will quickly bring matters to a resolution and hopefully enable the parent who wishes to travel with the children to do so.”
At HMG we are increasingly assisting clients with queries when only one parent is travelling with the children but the parties are not separated and they have been asked to prove that they have the other parents’ permission for them to travel with the children. This can often be a particular problem for parents who do not share the children’s surname.
“Parents who are travelling alone with the children with the permission of other parent should always consider taking with them a document signed by the parent who is not travelling confirming their consent whether the parents are separated or not” says Maxine. “This way, if there are any difficulties, it can be produced to border staff to show that they have permission to travel with the children. Indeed, some countries, including South Africa, now require any parents who are not travelling with their children into the country to provide written consent in a specific form”.
If you are not sure whether you need permission to take your children on holiday then you should take legal advice. If you do remove the children from the jurisdiction without consent, then this is very likely to be considered as child abduction and can be extremely serious, with the parent who is not travelling making an application to court for the children’s immediate return to England and Wales.
If you need help or advice with any matter relating to family and/or arrangements for children, please contact Maxine on 01869 252244.