As we approach the summer holidays, parents are often thinking about taking their children on summer holidays abroad. This may be an anxious and emotive time for parents who are separated. Questions and concerns can often arise about proposals for a holiday, whether consent is needed, what information should be shared about the trip, and in some cases a parent may be worried that their child may not be returned at the end of the holiday.

If one parent wishes to take their child abroad on holiday, they will need the consent of anyone who shares parental responsibility for the child. If the other parent or person sharing parental responsibility does not give consent, permission would need to be sought from the Court under an application for a Specific Issues Order. Alternatively, if a parent is worried that their child may be taken out of the country without consent, an application can be made to the Court seeking to prevent this, by way of applying for a Prohibited Steps Order.

If the parent wishing to take the child on holiday has a Child Arrangements (lives with Order) (previously called a Residence Order) in place, then they are able to take the child on holiday abroad for up to 28 days without consent of the other parent. However, if there is a Child Arrangements (spend time with) Order (previously called a Contact Order) in place, these arrangements still need to be adhered to.

It is unlawful to remove a child from this country, even for a holiday, without the necessary permissions of everyone who shares parental responsibility for the child, or permission of the Court.

If an application is made to the Court, the Court will be considering what arrangements are in the best interest of the child. If there is a concern about parental abduction, the Court will need to consider the risk and potential safeguards that could be put in place.

If parents are able to agree holiday arrangements, it is always a good idea to agree the specific holiday dates in writing so it is clear what the agreed date of return will be. It is also advisable to set out which countries and destinations the consent is being given for. It can be common in some countries for evidence to be provided on arrival that the relevant consents relating to the child’s travel have been obtained.

It is always good practice to share or obtain the following information regarding proposed holidays abroad;

  • Details of the child’s accommodation, resort and an emergency contact number;
  • Copies of return flight tickets/travel itinerary;

If a child is wrongfully removed from this country or retained abroad, there are ways in which an application for a child’s return can be made.

1980 Hague Convention
This is an international treaty which provides some protection in circumstances where a child is either ‘wrongfully removed’ to another country or ‘wrongfully retained’ in another country. There are currently 103 countries who are signatories to the 1980 Hague Convention. Proceedings are dealt with in the High Court and are summary on nature. These types of proceedings are dealt with very quickly.

Wardship Proceedings
If a child has been removed or retained in a country which is not a signatory to the 1980 Hague Convention, applications such as wardship, can be made in the High Court.

It is important to act quickly if you think your child may be wrongfully removed from the country or wrongfully retained in another.

If you have any queries or would like advice surrounding any of the issues raised in this blog, please contact our Partner and Head of Children & Domestic Abuse Team, Gemma Kelsey on 07731 373 468

About Gemma
Gemma has over 15 years experience specialising in international children law matters with a particular specialism in cases involving the 1980 Hague Convention, wardship and international relocation. Gemma holds a Resolution Specialist Accreditation in Child abduction law, private children law and Domestic Abuse. Gemma is recognised and ranked in the Legal 500 and Chambers & Partners in respect of her work in international children law.

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