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With the summer holidays fast approaching, many families will be planning holidays abroad with children. But if you and your partner are separated, are you aware of the appropriate steps you need to take to ensure you are legally permitted to take your child out of the UK?

The expert family law team at Bray & Bray explains the legal rights and responsibilities of parents, and the law on taking children on holidays abroad.

The legal rights of parents

The permission required to take a child out of the UK depends on who has parental responsibility for the child and if there are any court orders in place.

A mother automatically has parental responsibility for her child from birth (unless the child has been adopted or taken into care). The father will also have parental responsibility if he’s either:

  • Married to the child’s mother
  • Named on the birth certificate and the birth was registered after 1st December 2003 if registered in England and Wales (the dates are different depending on which part of the UK the child was born in

The law on taking children on holidays abroad

 A child cannot be taken overseas without the permission of the other parent and anyone else who has parental responsibility. Doing this without the required permission is classed as child abduction and is a criminal offence.

You can take a child abroad for 28 days without getting permission if a child arrangement order states the child must live with you, unless a court order disallows this.

When taking a child abroad, it is recommended that a letter is obtained from the former partner to evidence the consent, as this may be requested at UK or foreign borders. The letter should contain the other parent’s contact details and details about the trip. It is also helpful if you have evidence of your relationship with the child, such as a birth or adoption certificate, or a divorce or marriage certificate, if you are a single parent but your family name is different to the child’s.

If grandparents or other family members wish to take a child abroad, permission is needed from both parents with parental responsibility and not just one parent.

What if my ex-partner refuses permission?

If your former partner refuses permission for you to take your child abroad, you will need to apply to the court for a specific issue order.

The court will consider whether the holiday is in the best interests of the child and if there is perceived to be a risk that the child may not be returned to the UK at the end of the holiday, when deciding whether or not to grant permission.

If you are planning to take your child abroad for a longer trip, then you will be required to provide additional information to the court, such as what education the child will receive whilst they are there.

Court proceedings may be avoided if both parties agree to sorting out the matter through mediation.

How Bray & Bray can help

If you’re unsure about any aspect of the law relating to taking children on overseas holidays or if you and your former partner are struggling to come to an agreement, our professional and caring specialist family lawyers will be happy to provide legal advice.

Contact us about your parental responsibilities today and our team will be happy to help.

Bray & Bray have three main offices across Leicestershire and one in Corby. Please feel free to get in touch to talk to one of our solicitors, or pop into one of our offices.

Leicester 0116 254 8871

Hinckley 01455 639 900

Market Harborough: 01858 467 181

Corby: 01536 851 050