Managing holidays abroad with children when separated

Managing holidays abroad with children when separated

As the summer period is now upon us, this often raises the question of holidays between separated parents.  This thorny issue has been made even more difficult if you wish to travel abroad with your child/children due to the current pandemic and restrictions around travelling abroad.

Can I take my child/children abroad without the other parents’ permission?

If you have no Court Order currently in place with regard to your child/children, then yes you need permission of the other parent if you wish to travel abroad with them, provided that parent has Parental Responsibility for the child/children.

If you have a Court Order in place, then this will depend on what kind of Order is place.  If you have a “live with” Order granted in your favour, then you are allowed to take the child/children abroad for the purpose of a holiday, for a period of up to 28 days, without the other parent’s permission.

What can I do if we cannot agree holidays?

If the issue you cannot agree is about when the child/children should be spending time with you or the other parent over the holiday periods, or for how long this should be (so extended time for a holiday for example), then you can make an Application to the Court for a Child Arrangements Order setting out what time and when the child/children should be with each parent.

If you have agreed the time but one parent does not consent to a child/children being taken abroad, then if you are the parent wishing to go abroad you can apply for a Specific Issue Order from the Court for permission from the Court to travel abroad with the child/children.  If you are the parent wishing to stop the child/children travelling abroad, you can apply to the Court for a Prohibited Steps Order preventing the parent from taking the child/children abroad.

Will the Court allow me to take my child/children abroad, given the current pandemic and restrictions?

This will depend on a number of factors and is a balancing exercise for the Court.  When deciding, the Court will have to take into account the welfare of the child which is the Court’s paramount consideration.  When deciding the welfare of the child/children and what is in their best interests, the Court apply a welfare checklist. 

If the other parent’s sole objection to child/children being taken abroad is due to the current pandemic and restrictions, the Court would have to balance the benefit the child/children would get from the trip abroad against any potential risks the current pandemic/restrictions pose. 

The following would therefore need to be considered carefully by the Court, when asked to make such a decision:

  • The destination – Is the place you wish to travel to currently on the green, amber or red list.  If you wish to travel to a destination currently on the green list, this is more likely to be successful then if you wished to travel to amber or red list destination.
  • The reason for travel – is the trip purely for recreation, so a holiday, or is there some other reason.  If, for example, the trip was to visit an elderly relative living abroad, this is more likely to be met with sympathy by the Court than an application that is purely recreational.
  • What restrictions are present in the destination you are travelling to – as well as considering what restrictions are currently being imposed in the UK, research and considering will need to take, as to the restrictions currently in place at the destination you wish to travel too.  As these may not be the same.
  • Quarantine – if you wish to travel to a destination which requires quarantine, either upon arriving at that destination or upon returning to the UK, how will this be managed.  As this may require extended time and therefore extended time away from the other parent.  What if the travel status of the destination were to change suddenly whilst you are there, are you able to put in place any reassurances or contingencies. 

We hope the above is helpful and our family law team at Thursfields are also always on hand should you need assistance, should matters break down.  Our team is here to offer a sympathetic, supportive and approachable person at the end of the phone to offer advice.  We are able to facilitate Zoom / Facetime or telephone conferencing should you wish to do so. Contact us on 0345 20 73 72 8 or info@thursfields.co.uk

Jill Roberts - Colour

Jill Roberts,

Associate Chartered Legal Executive, Family Department

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