Summer is on its way, bringing with it arguments between separated parents over holiday arrangements for their children. It is important to make holiday plans as early as possible so as to give sufficient time within which to resolve any disputes. Generally there is no restriction on a parent taking a child on holiday in England and Wales without permission but the position is different if the proposed trip is abroad.
There is no automatic right to be able to take a child abroad and it is necessary to obtain the consent of any other person having parental responsibility for the child, usually the other parent. It is sensible to get this in writing to avoid difficulties.
A parent who has a court order confirming that a child lives with them can take a child abroad for up to 28 days without the consent of the other parent, but the other parent can apply to the court for an order (Prohibited Steps Order) to prevent this. Equally a parent can apply to the court for an order permitting them to travel if it is opposed (Specific Issue Order).
The travelling parent needs to provide the other with full details of the proposed holiday to include journey dates and times, where they are going, accommodation details and a contact number in order that the other parent has a means of getting in touch should circumstances dictate. It is likely that if this information is provided to the other parent the court would approval any plans unless there is a chance of risk to the child.
What the court will do.
The court will make a decision based on what is considered to be in the best interests of the child. A parent seeking to prevent the child being taken will need to think carefully about their reasons for objecting; who wants to be seen as depriving their child of a lovely holiday? Equally a parent should not simply take the child out of the country without obtaining agreement or permission as this could lead to a charge of child abduction which could result in serious sanctions being imposed.
If arrangements are becoming tricky, our family law team can help.