The first summer holidays after separation can often be a source of anxiety and conflict. Due to financial constraints following separation, parents can often feel concerned as to whether or not a summer holiday is affordable before even considering where the children are going to be and which parent they will be spending time with.
Both parents need to give permission for a child to be taken abroad for a summer holiday. The exception to this is in circumstances where the Court has made a Child Arrangements Order. Where a parent is named in the Order as the person with whom the child lives, then that parent is able to take a child abroad for up to 28 days without the permission of any other person with parental responsibility.
What if my former partner refuses permission?
If you wish to take your children abroad and the other parent will not consent, you will need to make an application to the Court for a Specific Issue Order. This is an order dealing with a particular problem over caring for children between parents. You can make this application on an emergency basis if you have travel plans. If the Court then grants permission for you to take the children abroad, you do not need the other parent’s consent.
What if I refuse permission?
If you are worried about your former partner going on holiday with your children without your consent, you can make an application for a prohibited steps order. This is an order which stops a parent from doing something or taking particular steps in relation to the child. In an emergency situation, the Court can order the port alert to prevent the children leaving the country. This is only where the threat is real and likely to occur within 24-48 hours. The Court can also order that a UK passport is surrendered which can also prevent the Passport Service from issuing a passport or travel document.
In order to ensure a stress-free summer holiday, we would recommend the following:
1. Speak to the other parent as early as possible about your plans and prior to paying for the trip to avoid disappointment. It may be useful to compare diaries with the other parent and identify where there could be an issue with child care or the effect this has on the current contact arrangements.
2. Be child focused – make sure the children’s best interests are at the centre of your plans.
3. Give the other parent sufficient information about your trip such as the dates, flight details and contact details for any accommodation.
4. If you are taking the children abroad carry a letter of permission signed by the other parent, this may be needed at a later date. The government guidance recommends that this letter includes contact details for the parent giving permission and details about the trip they are permitting.
5. If your surname is different to that of your child’s, it is useful to carry evidence of your relationship with the child (such as a birth certificate, or copy of your Decree Absolute or new marriage certificate).
6. Come to an agreement – a shared parenting agreement is a good way to agree on how you are going to continue sharing the parenting role on separation and can also contain details of how the children will spend the holidays, which could save a lot of time and stress when planning summer holidays each year. Another alternative is to obtain a Child Arrangements Order from the Court which can also set out the arrangements for holidays each year.
At Lund Bennett Law LLP our specialist family law solicitors can advise you on the most appropriate arrangement for your situation. For further information, contact one of our specialist family law solicitors today on 0161 927 3118 for a free 20 minute consultation.