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Taking your children abroad - a guide for separated parents

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The school holidays are almost upon us and many separated parents will already have made or be in the process of making plans for a trip abroad with their children.  It is important for children to enjoy their holidays and experience new opportunities. It is vital that parents who are separated communicate about arrangements for children, to avoid any unnecessary disputes.

It is important to know where you stand before any plans are made. Consent for a child to travel abroad should be obtained from the other parent or anyone else who has parental responsibility for the child (e.g. a grandparent with a child arrangements or special guardianship order). It is advisable that consent is obtained in written format so as to avoid any disputes at a later date. Written consent may also be required by the authorities at the airport of departure or on entering the other country. This can be a particular issue if the parent and child travelling together do not share the same surname.

If permission is refused, then you may have to apply to the court for permission for the child to travel abroad. An exception is if you have a Child Arrangements Order stating that the child lives with you. In this situation, the consent of the other parent is not needed if the child is going abroad for less than 28 days with the parent they live with. It is advisable to still inform the other parent that the child will be going abroad and to seek their consent to show that you are making important decisions about the child together.

If the matter comes before the court, the Judge will consider any objections raised to the child travelling abroad. This will include considering the reasons for the holiday and the proposed destination. The Judge will also consider any fear that the child may not be returned and evidence such as return tickets may have to be provided.  Ultimately, the Judge determines what is in the child’s best interests and whether the child will benefit from the holiday, which in most circumstances of course they will.

It should be noted that taking a child out of the country without the consent of the other parent is a criminal offence and can be punishable by way of a fine and/or imprisonment.

If you would like advice about taking your children abroad or you are concerned about your children being taken abroad without your consent, please do get in touch with our specialist international children team on 0203 440 8000 or A_FamilyReferrals@tvedwards.com. We have a team of experienced solicitors who are able to offer specialist legal advice. 

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