As thoughts turn to booking a summer holiday I am increasingly approached by potential clients asking me whether or not they are able to take their children away on holiday and whether they need the consent of the other parent.
I view these clients as the enlightened ones who have thought to ask the question. Some people, perhaps understandably do not even see the need for the other parents’ consent to go on holiday, adopting the view that it will be nice for the children. If it is during that parent’s normal “contact time” some parents do not even begin to imagine there would be a problem. If, however the other parent objects this could result in legal proceedings very close to a holiday which is far from ideal.
If you want to avoid this potential upset, it’s helpful to understand the legal position for parents as potential holidaymakers.
Get consent before you book
If you wish to take your child abroad on holiday (which means outside of England and Wales) you will need the consent of any person who holds parental responsibility for that child. For the avoidance of any doubt parental responsibility is held by all mothers and married fathers and also fathers named on the birth certificate of a child – in respect of children born after 1st December 2003.
The only exception to this is that where a child arrangements order is in place stating that a child lives with a parent this the provides permission to take the child abroad without needing to obtain consent for a period of up to 1 month.
If you wish to book a holiday my advice is to obtain the consent from the other parent in advance, ideally before you book. When you ask them for consent they are perfectly they are perfectly entitled to expect you to provide details of the holiday, including exact dates, flight numbers, accommodation name and your proposals for telephone contact while you are away – subject to the length of the break.
It is always advisable to obtain the consent from the other parent in writing and you should take this on holiday with you so that you may show this letter to any relevant authorities should the need arise.
Appeal to the Courts as a last resort
If you make a request of the other parent and this is refused you can make an application to the Court for permission to take your child on holiday. The Court will then make a decision as to whether or not the potential holiday would be in the best interests of the child. Although there can be no guarantees, more often than not requests for holidays abroad are usually granted provided the child will be safe and well looked after whilst there.
Of course, you want to avoid Court action if you can.
This is an issue which crops up every year and hopefully this blog has provided a little more clarity. It’s not one of those cases where it’s better to ask for forgiveness than permission; get the permission of the other parent, go away, relax and enjoy your break.
Divorce & family lawyer Birmingham