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12 June 2023

Taking children abroad – your questions answered

4 mins

With the summer holidays approaching, you may be thinking of booking a holiday abroad with your children.

As a separated parent, you may have some questions about whether you need the other parent’s agreement to take your child abroad or you may have reservations about your child being taken abroad by their other parent. We answer some of those questions for you below. 

Do I need to tell my child’s other parent and obtain their agreement if I wish to take my child abroad?
  • You need the consent of the other parent if they have Parental Responsibility for the child. Written consent is always advisable.
  • If there is a Child Arrangements Order in force that confirms that the child lives with you, the consent of the other parent is not required to take the child abroad for less than a month. You will however need consent if you intend to take the child abroad for longer than a month.
  • Communication with the other parent is key even if they do not have parental responsibility, particularly if the other parent regularly sees the child and travel arrangements will impact upon the time they spend with the child.
What can I do if the other parent does not agree?
Consider these options:
  • Mediation can be helpful when there is a dispute between separated parents about matters relating to the child.
  • Contact a solicitor who can get in touch with the other parent with your proposals in an attempt to negotiate an agreement.
  • As a last resort and in most cases after attempting mediation, you can make an application to court for permission to take your child abroad for a holiday.
What if my plans change whilst I’m abroad with my child?
Take action:
  • If you intend to stay abroad with your child for longer than agreed by the other parent, you must immediately notify the other parent and obtain their written consent for your child to remain abroad for a further period of time.
  • If you are unable to obtain consent, you should return to the UK with your child in accordance with the initial agreement.
  • If you do not return, you will be at risk of child abduction allegations being made against you. Child abduction is a criminal offence and urgent applications can also be made in the family court for the child to be returned to the UK.
What can I do if my child is not returned to the UK after a holiday with the other parent?
Act promptly:
  • You need to act quickly if your child has not been returned to the UK after an agreed period of time abroad.
  • You should first try to get in touch with the other parent and ask them to return the child immediately.
  • If they do not respond or they do not agree to return the child, you should seek legal advice urgently with a view to making a court application for the child’s return, or contacting ICACU (the International Child Abduction and Contact Unit) depending on where your child has been taken or is being kept overseas without your permission.
What should I do if I wish to move abroad (relocate) with my child?
Communicate and seek advice:
  • Discuss your intentions with the other parent in order to seek their agreement without the need for court proceedings. Have a clear plan including details of where you would live, the child’s proposed school (if they are of school age), local facilities and services, and the proposals for the child to be able to have contact with or spend time with the other parent.
  • Mediation can also be useful in reaching an agreement and in most cases this has to be attempted before a court application is made.
  • If mediation is unsuccessful or not considered suitable, you can make an application to court to seek permission to relocate abroad with the child. Do not relocate abroad with your child until you have an agreement with the other parent, or a court order.

Our accredited Family and Matrimonial team offer expert advice in relation to the topics covered in this article. For more information about our services, visit our web page here.

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