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Can I take my child on holiday abroad without the other parent’s permission?

Posted on 26th October 2018

With Christmas holidays around the corner, some people will be thinking of travelling away for the holiday season, whether it’s to get away from all the hustle and bustle or to spend time away with loved ones.

However, many people when wanting to travel with children without the other parent, encounter difficulties.

I am frequently asked can I take my child on holiday abroad without the other parent’s permission.

If there is a court order in place

I will first ask if there is a court order in place which regulates who the child lives with and what time they spend with other parent. If there is an order which stipulates where a child lives, that parent can take a child abroad for 28 days without getting permission.

If there is no court order in place

If there is no court order in place, you need to get the agreement of the other parent, in writing, a signed letter should suffice. The letter should detail the travel itinerary as well as contact details for the other parent. You may be asked for such a letter at a border.

What information should you bring?

Adopt a belt and braces approach and as the travelling parent, have evidence of your relationship with the child, e.g., birth certificate and a copy of your decree absolute or marriage certificate, if you are a single parent and /or your surname is different to your child’s surname.

Please also be aware that you do require the other parent’s permission each time you take your child abroad, unless you have a Court order in place, allowing the same.

I often hear stories about permission be revoked once granted. I am afraid a parent is entitled to do the same, they should, of course, have a good reason for revoking permission, rather than just being “difficult”.

What can you do if the other parent refuses to give consent?

Well, you can apply to the Court for a Specific Issue Order, i.e., specifically asking the Court to decide if you can travel abroad with your child.

If embarking upon this route, be sure to provide the Court with a full travel itinerary, including flight details, accommodation, a contact telephone number, who will be travelling with the child etc. This is all basic information that the other parent is entitled to have. Moreover, if the shoe were on the other foot, wouldn’t you as the non-travelling parent want this information?

If you are planning a trip and feel that the other parent is likely not to agree, it is worth applying early to the Court to ensure that the matter can be heard in good time. If time is not on your side, you may need to make an urgent application at court. Giving the other parent notice of such a hearing would be helpful with a view to progressing the matter swiftly.

In summary, unless you have a court order that allows you to travel abroad with your child, you will need the other parent’s consent (and every other person that has parental responsibility) for that child and if that fails you will need the Court’s permission. Taking a child abroad without a permission is child abduction.

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