As the summer season approaches, thoughts of recharging with a holiday abroad may not be far from your mind. If you’re divorced or separated, considerations around managing arrangements for the children can certainly cause stress and anxiety. This is especially true if your situation is contentious and emotions are running high. 

However, with early planning and expert legal advice, things don’t have to be as stressful as you might anticipate. 

Whilst there’s no guarantee that any tricky situations can be resolved in time for this summer, it’s still worth looking at what the law says about taking your children abroad and a few things to bear in mind before you go ahead and book that holiday.  

What the law says

If you don’t have a Child Arrangements Order or permission from the court to take your children abroad, you’ll need to get consent from everyone who has parental responsibility before you do so. 

It’s a common misconception that you don’t need anyone else’s permission if you’re the child’s mother, but this isn’t the case. Whilst birth mothers have automatic parental responsibility, the permission of others who also have parental responsibility is needed if you intend to take your child out of the country for any period of time. In most circumstances, this includes their father.

What happens if you don’t seek permission?

At the airport or border control, you may be asked to produce evidence that you have permission from the other parent along with other documentation to evidence your relationship to the child. For example, a letter confirming that they’re happy with your plans. This is more likely to be requested if you have a different surname to your child on your passport. 

As a worst-case scenario, if you don’t get permission, you could find yourself being accused of child abduction. Whilst it’s uncommon for a parent to make a court application or seek to progress criminal charges over taking a child abroad for a holiday without permission (provided the child is returned), it’s possible if you haven’t ironed out any potential objections from your ex-spouse or partner. 

Communicate with your ex where possible

If you can, it’s always best to discuss your holiday plans with your ex-partner or spouse as soon as possible. Depending on your circumstances, you can do this with them directly or through your solicitor.  

To manage any objections, you may be advised to provide them with as much detail as possible – your holiday destination, for example, and the dates and times of any flights. 

If your children will miss any time with your ex during the holiday, whether detailed in a court order or agreed between you both, assure your ex that any missed time will be made up before or after your return and agree the dates. 

Building trust in this way could make it easier to arrange any trips in the future. 

What if your ex-partner refuses to consent? 

If your ex-partner doesn’t consent to you taking your children abroad, you’ll need to seek permission through other means. 

In the first instance, it’s worth getting legal advice to see if you can agree by negotiation through a solicitor. If this isn’t successful, you’ll need to apply to the court for a specific issue order, an order that decides on a particular issue regarding the children when parents cannot agree. 

However, this isn’t a swift process. That’s why it’s essential to plan ahead and give yourself plenty of time if this course of action is needed. 

The summer holidays should be a time of excitement rather than worry. With our expert support, we can help you take the first step towards resolving any legal issues that arise from your divorce and advise you on the best course of action. We’re here to get the best outcome for you and your family. 

Contact Harrogate Family law today to chat with one of our team.