Travelling abroad with your children – Legal implications explained

July 2022 | Benrina Browne

Travel

Going out of the UK with your children this summer? If you are separated or no longer live together with the other parent, there are issues need to be addressed.

The requirement to obtain permission to take a child out of the UK is not commonly known. It usually applies where Children Act Orders have been made, and of course the type of trip being made.

There are a few considerations to be borne in mind:

Parental responsibility

Where both parents share parental responsibility and there are no Child Arrangements orders (residence orders) or other restrictions in place, then neither can take the child on holiday outside the United Kingdom without the other’s written consent. If consent is refused, the way forward is to make an application to the Court to decide.

Where only one parent has a Child Arrangements Order, they can take a child abroad for up to 28 days without the written consent of the other parent, although it is always good practice to consult the other parent: notify them (in writing) and agree arrangements well in advance. If the other parent disagrees with the trip, they can make an application to the court for parental responsibility and objecting to the trip. However, they must have a good reason for objecting, late notice or not liking the choice of destination alone will not be sufficient.

Be reasonable

In most cases an agreement can be reached in advance and misunderstandings avoided. Except where there are serious concerns for a child to go abroad, the Court will invariably grant permission, so carefully consider your decision to make an application, and try to reach an agreement with the other party before incurring legal costs.

Even where parents are together, but one is travelling alone with a child, there are some countries that require proof of the other parent’s consent, so do your research into the entry requirements, and obtain the relevant documentation (letter, legal statement, statutory declaration, affidavit etc) before travelling. Usually, the information required should include where the child will be staying, the date of departure, return and details of flights as well as contact telephone numbers.

In cases where the court has been involved with the child’s wellbeing, where there are serious concerns or that require consideration of the law and procedures in foreign countries, then a Judge of the High Court may deal with the application as consideration will need to be given regarding putting in place specific orders to protect the child. This may include mirror orders, notarised agreements and significant sums of money placed in a bond to be released upon the child's return, and in rare cases, other family members have been required to enter into a solemn declaration guaranteeing the safe return of the child.

Call our team today to find out more or for assistance with travel consent for a minor