Taking the kids abroad? Guidance for separated parents at holiday time
Taking your children on holiday abroad if you are separated or divorced can become a legal minefield if you don’t follow the right procedures. Many people don’t know that, depending on your circumstances, you may need to get consent of anyone with ‘parental responsibility’ or even a court order to do so.
Parental responsibility, or ‘PR’, covers the legal rights, duties and responsibilities that parents have for their children. Biological mothers automatically have PR, but biological fathers don’t. Fathers who were married to the child’s mother either before or after the child’s birth do have PR, as do unmarried fathers of children born after 1st December 2003 if they are named on the child’s birth certificate. The position is more complicated for same sex couples.
If you have a child arrangements order in place which specifies where your child lives, then the parent with whom your child usually lives with can take them abroad for up to 28 days without needing consent. As you can see the details can be complicated so if you are in any doubt, you should take specialist advice.
Planning ahead can make things easier
Leaving discussions about holidays until the last minute will inevitably complicate matters. If you think it is going to be difficult agreeing arrangements, consider contacting a mediation service which may help you iron out any potential areas of dispute. Booking a holiday on the assumption that your plans will be agreed when you know there is a likelihood they won’t be is unlikely to get things off to a good start.
Be prepared to share details of where you’re planning to stay, contact phone numbers and information about travel arrangements. If it is information that you would want to have, then it is reasonable for the other parent to ask for the same information.
Court proceedings should be a last resort. They can be costly both financially and emotionally. If you do have to involve the courts they will look at what the court considers being in your children’s best interests. If there is a concern as to whether children will be brought back from a holiday it may be that there are safeguards that can be put in place to make sure this happens.
Take advice if you’re in any way unsure as to your position. Cost effective, pragmatic and expert help could save you spending significant amounts on contested proceedings and may help you achieve an agreement without the need for court.