The Law requires anybody who has Parental Responsibility in relation to a child to be consulted and give their permission before that child is taken out of the country, even for the purpose of a holiday. Married couples always have Parental Responsibility and, since 1 December 2003, unmarried fathers whose names are on the child’s Birth Certificate will also have Parental Responsibility for that child. Some couples may well have entered into a Parental Responsibility Agreement or there may be an order in place that confers Parental Responsibility on them and, as such, it is always better to try and ensure that you have written confirmation from your estranged partner or spouse before you book a holiday.
The only exception to this rule is a parent who has the benefit of a “living with” type of Child Arrangement Order (formerly known as a Residence Order) as they are able to take a child abroad for a period of up to a month without necessarily having the permission of the other parent. However, if the intention was to remove the child permanently from the jurisdiction then you would still need the permission of the other parent with Parental Responsibility.
If permission is refused, then there are a few things you can do. The first is to try and negotiate this permission via your solicitor; the second would be to consider attending mediation to try and reach an agreement with the assistance of a local Mediation Service. Ultimately, if it comes to it, an urgent application can be made to the Court but, ideally, this needs to be done well in advance of the proposed holiday as this type of application can take a number of weeks to be concluded.
Even when you have the permission, it is also good practice to provide contact details whilst on holiday in case of emergency. The earlier that the arrangements are made; the less likely it is that your holiday in the sun will be jeopardised by the need to make an application to the Court. A Court will usually take a pragmatic view and, as long as the holiday is age appropriate and evidence is given that the children will be returned to the jurisdiction at the end of the holiday, the Court will usually take the view that it is better for the children to have fun in the sun rather than them missing out on a trip away.
If you require any further advice or information about issues such as this, or any other issues, please do not hesitate to contact either Toby Netting on 0330 017 6306. Toby and his team are experienced family solicitors and will be happy to advise in relation to any family matter.