Travelling abroad with your children if you’re separated

April 19

Travelling abroad with your children if you’re separated


With the summer holidays fast approaching us, it’s the time of year when parents are looking to arrange their summer break with their children. If you’re separated from your former partner, there are a few extra things you’ll need to consider - such as parental responsibility and any child arrangements already in place.


When do you need the other parents’ permission to take the child out of the country on holiday?


Understanding who has parental responsibility is key here. When a child is born, the mother will automatically have parental responsibility. Unmarried fathers only get parental responsibility if their name is on the child’s birth certificate, have a Court Order granting it, enter into an agreement with the mother or marry the mother. 


If both parents have parental responsibility, and no child arrangements orders are in place, then neither parent can take the child abroad without the written consent of the other parent.  


If one parent has a child arrangements order stating the child lives with that parent, this means they can take the child abroad for 28 days without written consent of the other parent. If one parent alone has parental responsibility, and there is no court order, the permission of the other parent is not strictly necessary.


Top tip: if you are on good terms with your former partner, this naturally makes it easier to arrange school holidays and trips abroad. It is however advisable to agree any travel arrangements well advance, to avoid any issues. 


What to do if one parent does not give permission for the children to go abroad?


If one parent refuses to give permission, you will have to make an application to the court for permission to travel abroad with the child. You will need to give details of the trip for example, departure and return date and contact details of the person with parental responsibility that will be staying in the UK. 


Top tip: the application process can take some time if the other parent does not cooperate, so it is best to apply a few months in advance of the planned holiday. If your holiday is quite close, you should apply as soon as you can.


Can you travel abroad with a child with a different surname?


If you are travelling abroad with a child that has a different surname to you, then you may find that Border Control in the country you are travelling to have particular requirements to allow you to enter the Country.


Top tip: Check with the Country you are travelling to so that you are aware of the necessary paperwork for that particular Country.  If it involves documents being signed by the other parent, this can be dealt with at the same time as seeking that parent’s permission to travel with your child.


At Tees we can help you and your former partner look at travel plans objectively, helping you to avoid any obvious conflicts, and ensuring the whole family enjoys their holidays by way of mediation or the Court process.


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