We are all aware that checks when travelling have become much more demanding in recent years.
In addition, when travelling with children, authorities are now much more diligent in ensuring that children have permission to travel with those who are accompanying them. Whilst this may be a headache for some, (such as mothers who do not share the same surname as their children but are travelling legitimately) the purpose is to prevent child abduction wherever possible.
Many parents are unaware that they must obtain permission from anyone else with parental responsibility before they can take a child out of the UK.
That applies whether it be a day trip to Paris, a fortnight in Tenerife or spending the entire summer with family in India.
The consequences if you fail to do so are serious and may be considered an offence under the Child Abduction Act 1984. It is wise to consider what is required well before you set off for the airport.
Who has parental responsibility?
If you want to take your child outside the UK you must have permission from all those with parental responsibility or leave of the Court.
Parental responsibility means the legal rights and responsibilities of a parent.
Mothers automatically have parental responsibility for a child from birth, the other parent acquires it automatically if married or in a civil partnership to the child’s mother, if named on the birth certificate ( from 1 December 2003), by entering a parental responsibility agreement with the mother or getting a parental responsibility order, parenting order, special guardianship order or adoption order from the Court.
If someone else has parental responsibility for your child, you therefore must seek their consent before travelling out of the country.
The only exception to this is if you already have a Child Arrangement Order which says the child must live with you. In that case, you can take a child abroad for 28 days without permission, unless the order prohibits that from happening.
Even if you do have an order saying the child lives with you, it is good practice to make the other parent aware in advance of the trip and obtain their consent.
What do I need when I travel?
1) Get a letter from the other parent confirming that you have permission to take the child abroad. It should include their full name, address, telephone number, details of the trip including travel dates, the child’s passports details and/or any other documentation you are providing. The letter should be signed, dated and witnessed. Ideally if should be formally notarised by a solicitor.
2) Bring evidence of your relationship to your child with you if it is not obvious, such as if you have a different surname. A birth or adoption certificate would be useful in these circumstances.
What if the other parent won’t consent?
An application can be made to the Court for permission to take the child abroad if you haven’t or are unable to get permission from the other people with parental responsibility.
You will need to apply for a specific issue order under the Children Act 1989.
The court will require details of the trip, eg. the date of departure, when and how you are travelling each way, where you will be staying, the purpose of the trip and the contact details of all those with parental responsibility for the child. You can also seek an order from the Court that the other parent provide you with the child’s passport in advance of the holiday if required.
When considering an application by a parent to take a child on holiday, the Court’s decision will be based on the child’s welfare. It is usually not very difficult to persuade the Court that a holiday abroad is in the best interests of the child, unless for example it is a cover for an abduction.
Should you be planning more than a holiday and wish to relocate with your child to a different country the requirements of an application to the Court will be rather different.
The application to the Court will take some time, therefore it is important if you seek consent from the other parent early to allow sufficient time to obtain permission from the Court before you plan to travel.
Should you be affected by the issues in this article, we offer an initial consultation for new enquiries to assess whether we are able to assist you and to discuss anticipated fees for our services. Please call us on 0207 936 6329 or email firstname.lastname@example.org