For most people, taking the children abroad on holiday is something to look forward to both for children and their parents and many fond memories will be gained from the quality time everyone spends together. Unfortunately, things are not quite so straightforward in case where there is confusion over parental responsibility or when the correct permission hasn’t been sought by those who don’t have responsibility.
If you do take a child under the age of 16 away for a holiday and you don’t have permission from the person with parental responsibility, the you can run the risk of being charged with child abduction which is a criminal offence the definition of which is found in the Child Abduction Act 1984.
According to the law in England and Wales, the mother of the child will automatically have parental responsibility for her child and this will be shared by parents if the child is born when they are married.
In cases where the mother and father were not married when the child was born, the parental responsibility belongs only to the mother and the father must enter into a parental responsibility agreement which must be ordered by the court. There may also be cases where the father can become a guardian or adopt a child.
If you are travelling abroad with a child under 16 and don’t have parental responsibility, you must request permission in writing from the person who has that responsibility.
It is possible to make an application to the court under the Children Act 1989 for permission to take a child on holiday however you will need to prove to the court that you are taking the child on holiday rather than taking them away indefinitely. This can take time so should be prepared well in advance.
Channels of communication must remain open between the person taking the child on holiday and the mother or father to ensure there is no confusion and potential legal issues to deal with.