Now that Easter is over and the summer holiday is fast approaching with the glimmer of hope that we will be able to travel abroad again, it will not be long before disputes surface between separated parents about taking children overseas. Even if travel abroad is allowed, it is more important than ever to consider whether travelling to a particular country is in the children’s best interests in light of the ongoing global COVID-19 pandemic.
Generally, if one parent wants to take a child abroad, they must seek the consent of the other parent if they hold Parental Responsibility for the child. Mothers automatically have Parental Responsibility for children from birth and generally, fathers have Parental Responsibility if they are married to the child’s mother or named on the child’s birth certificate. Consent is not required if a Child Arrangements Order has been made in favour of a parent in which case the parent with whom that child lives has the right to take a child abroad for up to 28 days, provided that this does not interfere with Court ordered arrangements for the child to spend time with the other parent, but it is always advisable to consult with the other parent before making arrangements.
What can be done if parents do not agree?
Technically, the parent who wants to travel with the children should apply to the Court for a ‘Specific Issue Order’ granting them permission from the Court to take them abroad. However, it is also open to the other parent to make an application to the Court for a ‘Prohibited Steps Order’ preventing them from travelling abroad with the children.
Sitting down with your ex and having a constructive discussion about holiday arrangements in good time before a holiday is paramount so that everybody knows where they stand and to enable everybody to plan with disruption to the other.