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Parental disputes during the holidays

With the Christmas holidays approaching and many separated parents living in different towns, if not different countries we are unfortunately approaching the time when disputes occur about who the children will spend Christmas with. The matter can be made worse when a parent elects to take the child out of the country over the holiday period.

Perhaps the parent left at home misses the children, is fearful that actually it is a permanent removal and they’ll never see them again or even just annoyed that the other person can afford the luxury of time away from the dreary UK weather.

All too many people get the law wrong which can get them into difficulty with the law and also immigration officials.

The basic law is that you cannot remove a child out of the UK without:

  • Permission of the other parent IF they have joint parental responsibility OR
  • Permission of the Court

These people automatically have (shared) parental responsibility: 

  •  Parents who were married to each other at the time of the birth of the child or became so afterwards 
  • Parents who were not married at the time but where the child was born from 1/12/2003 and where the father is named on the birth certificate as father
  • Mothers of the children involved

So, normally you will need the agreement of the other parent. A Court is likely to allow a holiday if one parent refuses. The Courts can get very, very busy in December so sort this out very soon!

But if there are orders such as a residence order, then do check that Order for any sections referring to holidays or “leave to remove from the jurisdiction” and take advice. Court Orders can change any of the above.

Actions you can take to avoid problem:

Sort this out, early on, by agreement 

  • Keep the agreement - in writing - with your passports
  • Try to agree wording like “holidays up to 15 days from time to time” to avoid this discussion every year
  • Do understand the concerns of the other and give them full holiday details
  • Try to avoid Court
  • Check the children have an up to date passport

If you are in doubt about issues around parental responsibility or need advice on contact and residence orders contact Woolley & Co and we’ll put you in touch with one of our experienced family lawyers.

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