Child arrangements for summer holidays abroad.
As summer school holidays approach, child arrangements for parents who are separated can sometimes be a complicated process and can lead to disagreements.
Most parents can see the benefits of their children being able to enrich their lives with a holiday abroad. However when parents separate and emotions are running high, people often act out of character and place their own needs before that of their child. Parents may also fear that if a child is taken abroad that child may not be returned.
It is a criminal offence to take a child out of the UK without the consent of everyone with Parental Responsibility unless the Court has given permission. However, if an order has been made that a child is to live with a person, that person may take that child out of the UK for up to a month at a time.
Parental Responsibility can be defined as all the rights, duties and obligations of a parent – the right to have a say in the important decisions in a child’s life, such as education. All married parents have Parental Responsibility for their children. All mothers have Parental Responsibility automatically. However, not all fathers have Parental Responsibility unless (1) granted by the mother or (2) granted by a Court or (3) if the father’s name is registered on the child’s birth certificate after 1 December 2003 when he will automatically get Parental Responsibility for the child.
If there are no orders in place and consent to go abroad is being denied, then the party wanting to take the child abroad can make an application to the Court for what is known as “a specific issue order” to request permission to travel. This is a Court order that determines a specific set of facts and is limited to one narrow point.
Unless there is a safeguarding risk, concern that a party will not return the child, or the destination is unsafe or outside of The Hague convention, then it is likely the Court will make an order. The Court will always have the child’s welfare as its paramount consideration and will make an order that it feels is in the child’s best interests.
The court rarely determines that a holiday and quality time spent with one parent is not in the best interests of the child. In such circumstances, the Court will often ensure that full details of the travel plans – including dates, flight numbers and contact details of the hotel and other accommodation – will be given to the parent not going on holiday with the child. Sometimes provision can be made for indirect contact during the holiday, such as phone calls or Face Time contact with the parent staying at home to reassure that all is well, depending on the length of the holiday and the specific circumstances of the family.
Where there is genuine concern that a child will not be returned after the holiday by the parent holding the passport of the child, it is important to notify the passport office that the passport is not lost. There have been cases where sadly a parent has indicated that a passport has been lost and obtained a new one enabling them to travel. Once the child has left the UK it is extremely difficult to secure their return, depending on where they have travelled.
To find out more about a family legal matter, call Bina Modi on 01858 462 462 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org, Accredited Resolution and Law Society Family Law Solicitor and on the National Committee for Resolution.