With school holidays fast approaching summer getaways are on the horizon for many families this year.
As a family solicitor, I am often asked for advice from separated or divorced parents about whether they need to ask the other parent for their consent before taking a child abroad. It is not at the forefront of every parent’s mind especially if they have been through a difficult breakup.
It is, however, a very important question which could have serious implications if ignored.
The first question you need to ask yourself is does the other parent have what is known as parental responsibility for your child?
If you are unsure about the answer to this question you should seek legal advice.
Parental responsibility is automatic for mothers but the position is somewhat less clear for fathers.
A father may have parental responsibility:
- If he was married to the mother
- If he was named on the child’s birth certificate (after 1 December 2003)
- If the court has granted parental responsibility
- If both parents entered in to a parental responsibility agreement.
Establishing parental responsibility is very important, and if both parents have this, then usually you will need to seek the other parent’s consent to travel abroad with your child.
Is there a court order in place?
If the court has made an order to say whom the child should live with, you may not need the other parent’s consent, and in some circumstances, you can take your child abroad for up to 28 days without having to obtain consent from the other parent.
Whilst you may not need their consent, you should in most circumstances inform the other parent of your plans and I have included at the end of this article a helpful checklist of things you may wish to do or take with you on holiday.
If no Court order is in place and the other parent does have parental responsibility you must obtain that parent's permission before taking your child abroad.
What happens if the other parent refuses to give consent?
If you cannot agree matters with the other parent then you can make an application to Court. You should do this in plenty of time as it can take several months for your case to be heard.
Finally – you have the other parent’s consent to travel- what should you do next? Here is a helpful checklist of things to consider:
- Contact the embassy of the country you are travelling to, ensure they do not have any specific requirements
- Take a signed letter from the other parent giving their consent for you to travel with the child together with their contact details
- Take your child’s birth certificate showing your relationship to the child (especially important if you have a different surname)
- If you have a Court order in place then take this with you
Anna Patsalides is a family law solicitor at Taylor Walton solicitors. If you have any questions or queries or just want to get some initial advice please contact Anna on 01727 818525 or alternatively email her at email@example.com.