Child relocation & Holidays – It may not be as simple as you think to take your child or children on holiday.
Many parents fall into the trap of assuming that they do not need to consult one another before going abroad. A great deal of parents fail to realise that whether it is for a short period for a family holiday or perhaps on a more permanent basis, consent is required from both parents before a child leaves the United Kingdom.
Without the consent of the other parent or an Order from the Family Court in advance, removal of a child without consent is child abduction and this is a criminal offence.
Of course, it is not against the law for one parent to take their child or children on holiday abroad. However, it is against the law to do so without the consent or approval of all those who have parental responsibility or with the provision of an order of the Family Court.
What steps do I need to take in order to take my child(ren) abroad?
If you are wishing to travel abroad on holiday with your child or children then you must ask the other parent if they will consent to the holiday before booking it.
You may not get on well with the other parent, but all parents and those with parental responsibility have the right to know how long you are going away for, as well as specific details regarding the holiday such as flight time and number and the address of where you will be residing.
If having shared your itinerary with the other parent you are then denied consent, an application to the Family Court can be made by you and you can ask the Family Court to make a Specific Issue Order allowing for you all to then travel.
Is that everything?
Not quite. If there is already in place a Child Arrangements Order between you and the other parent, the rules are slightly different.
If you have an order from the Family Court stating that the children’s permanent home is with you, then you are permitted to travel abroad for up to 28 days at a time, however, it is best to always try and seek consent of the other parent in those circumstances so that they know where the child or children are going to be.
As to permanently relocating, there are many decisions to make when considering relocating with children outside of the United Kingdom.
Ideally, both parents should be involved in the decision to relocate with children as it will inevitably result in disruption to their normal day to day lives and ultimately will result in them being a large distance away from one of their parents and associated family.
As with taking a child abroad for a holiday, it is against the law to remove a child from the United Kingdom on a permanent basis without the consent of those who share parental responsibility for the child or without the benefit of an order from the Court sanctioning the relocation.
If you are unable to obtain the consent of the other party, it may be appropriate in the first instance to refer the case to mediation in order to try and resolve the matter amicably and without the need for proceedings.
If mediation or any other form of alternative dispute resolution doesn’t work, then an application can be made to the Family Court for what is known as a relocation application or application for leave to remove.
In a relocation application, the Family Court will look at all aspects of the child or children’s lives in order to reach a decision.
The Family Court will make a decision based on the child or children’s welfare and best interests, making sure that as so far as possible the child or children are able to maintain a relationship with both parents. In helping to make any decision on the issue, the Family Court will want to know as a minimum the following:
- The reasons behind the proposed move
- Where the child or children are going to live and with whom
- What school the child or children are going to be attending
- Whether there is any extended family in the area
- What the proposals are for the child or children to continue to then see the parent who is not moving with them
If the Family Court then makes a relocation order allowing a parent to move with the child abroad, they are able to include safeguards in the order made to ensure that the child or children are still having a continuing relationship with the parent who is not moving – this often includes provision for indirect contact via Skype or Facetime and often includes favourable provision for contact during school holidays, arrangements for transport and contact by way of telephone and email as well as other means.
Other considerations often come into mind when relocation or holidays are brought up – insurances for example and guarantees that the family will return home as promised. These are, of course, matters that requires serious thought and consideration.
How can Prism Family Law help?
If you have any queries regarding taking a child abroad or are concerned about the possibility of a child being taken out of the country without your agreement or consent, then please do not hesitate to contact Prism Family Law by telephone on 0191 269 6871 or via email [email protected] and take advantage of our free initial appointment offer.