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Taking a Child Abroad

View profile for Will Matheson
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Taking your child abroad is an exciting time and one where you will hopefully make memories of a life time. Before going outside of the UK, there are always lots of things that you must think about first. Unfortunately it is not as simple as just packing a bag, making sure everyone’s passport is in date and going to the airport. There are other matters that you need to take into consideration, especially if you are separated from the child’s other parent.

Before taking your child abroad, you must make sure that you get permission from everyone with Parental Responsibility. This includes their mother, their father or anyone else who has obtained Parental Responsibility by any other means, such as a Special Guardian. If you do not get their permission, you may be committing the criminal offence of Parental Abduction and this could in extreme circumstances, lead to a prison sentence of up to seven years.

If you have already been to court and have a Child Arrangements Order that states that your child lives with you, you can take your child abroad for a period of up to one month without the consent of everyone else with Parental Responsibility. Similarly if you have a Special Guardianship Order, you can take your child abroad for a period of up to three months without the consent of everyone else with Parental Responsibility. However, if the court has made an Order stating that you cannot do this, you must then obtain the consent of everyone with Parental Responsibility.

If you do not have a Child Arrangements Order that states that your child lives with you, or you are not a Special Guardian, then you must try to obtain the consent of everyone with Parental Responsibility. It is always advisable to get written consent so that you can show this as evidence if you are asked about it at the airport. This could be a letter or an email.

If they do not respond or you cannot get hold of them, you must show that you have made reasonable efforts to contact them to obtain their permission. When asking someone for their consent and they do not agree, they must give a good reason why they are refusing to allow you to take your child abroad. They cannot unreasonably refuse or say no without giving a good reason.

If you have asked them for permission and they have refused, the next step is to apply to the Family Court for a Specific Issues Order. When the court makes its decision it will look at the situation in relation to the holiday and consider the welfare of the child when making any Order.

If you are worried that your child is about to be taken abroad without your permission, it is extremely important that you obtain legal advice to see what steps you may be able to take to prevent this.

If you think that someone will refuse permission to take your child abroad, or they have already refused, we would recommend that you obtain legal advice as soon as possible to avoid it being a last minute rush and stop you enjoying looking forward to your holiday. You can make an appointment with one of our solicitors at any of our offices to discuss this with you or call 0115 945 4555.

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