Legal challenge: Don’t end up in jail over plan for summer holiday

Legal challenge: Don’t end up in jail over plan for summer holiday

Legal challenge: Don’t end up in jail over plan for summer holiday

First published in News Oxford Mail: Photograph of the Author by , Family solicitor and Mediator

Q I want to take my son on holiday to Spain but his mum will not agree. We do not live together anymore. It will only be for a week during school holidays. Can I take him anyway?

A Usually, when two separated parents share parental responsibility for a child, each parent can make decisions without the other parent about the child without necessarily agreeing every one of those decisions with the other parent.

However, there are some decisions about a child when agreement of both parents is required. One such decision is taking a child out of the jurisdiction of England and Wales.

It is important to note that taking a child to Scotland or Northern Ireland is treated the same as taking the child to Spain or Italy or further afield.

If you wish to take your son on holiday to Spain, you should consult your son’s mother and should obtain her agreement, ideally in writing. However, agreement could be implied from the actions of either parent. For example, if your son’s mother hands over your son’s passport knowing that you are planning to take him away on holiday, it could be said that she has given permission for you to take him abroad on holidays.

However, if you and your son’s mother cannot agree on the issue, you may need to make an application to the court for a Specific Issue Order. You should make such an application in good time (if possible, some months before the planned holiday) as it may take more than one hearing for the court to determine the issue.

If you go ahead and purchase the tickets and pay for holiday accommodation, the mother of your son may take action to stop you going abroad with him.

She may make an application for a Prohibited Steps Order, although she would have to provide a very good justification to the judge as to why your son should not have the benefit of a foreign holiday.

If you take your son abroad, without his mother’s consent, you may land yourself in a great deal of trouble.

Removing a child from the jurisdiction without the other parent’s consent may mean that you have committed the criminal offence of abduction and this may land you in jail, if you are prosecuted and found guilty.

QWe can’t afford a holiday abroad in school holidays, so are thinking of booking one in school term with our seven and 13-year-olds. Is this okay?

AJust last week it was reported there had been a huge rise in fines being given to parents for taking their children out of school during term time. According to the BBC, almost 64,000 fines have been issued since the law changed last September – a 70 per cent rise. Some of this figure will be for truancy, but it is thought that most is parents taking their children on holiday.

Now parents can be fined £60 per parent, per child and per period of absence. This rises to £120 if it’s not paid within 21 days. Headteachers can only allow authorised absence in “exceptional circumstances”, and the guidance from the Department for Education excludes most family holidays.

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