Legal challenge: Forward plan before child’s holiday break

Legal challenge: Forward plan before child’s holiday break

Legal challenge: Forward plan before child’s holiday break

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

If you are thinking of going on holiday with your child(ren) there are a few things to think about if you are divorced or separated from your child(ren)’s other parent.

The first thing to consider and establish is who has parental responsibility.

The law in England and Wales provides for all mothers to have parental responsibility of their children automatically.

All fathers that are married to the mother of their child(ren) also have parental responsibility. If the child(ren) was born on or after December 1, 2003, unmarried fathers that are named on the birth certificates of their children also have parental responsibility.

There are some circumstances where others have parental responsibility, such as step-parents or a local authority but this is a result of an agreement entered into or an order of the court.

Parental responsibility relates to a number of matters and one of them is being able to have a say about whether your child(ren) can go outside of England and Wales. As a parent to a child you must have permission from everyone who has parental responsibility of the child(ren) before you can take them outside of England and Wales.

If you are refused permission or do not seek permission to take the child(ren) outside of England and Wales you could be arrested and charged with child abduction, even if you go to Scotland!

It is always advisable to request and receive permission before booking any holidays.

If you are a parent that is unsure about providing your consent then it is reasonable to request contact details and copies of travel documents such as flight bookings.

If you cannot resolve the matter then your next step is to attempt mediation. If this is unsuccessful then you will need to apply to the court for an order that allows you to take your child(ren) on holiday.

It is important to remember that the court’s paramount consideration is always the welfare of the child(ren).

If you are having ongoing problems with holidays and permission is being unreasonably refused, then it may be that the court will grant you an order that states your child(ren) lives with you.

An order of this nature allows you to go outside of England and Wales with your child(ren) for up to a month without permission of anyone else who has parental responsibility, providing you are not breaching any other orders.

If you are ever unsure of whether you can take your child(ren) outside of England and Wales then you should always seek advice before taking action.

If you need to attend at court to make an application, it can take weeks or sometimes even months before a decision is made.

The holidays should be an enjoyable time so it is always sensible to plan ahead.

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