Holidays abroad are an event many families look forward to every year. However, annually, hundreds of families face delays and even miss holidays because they are simply unaware of the law around taking a child out of the country.
A person who has a Child Arrangements Order confirming that their child lives with them (formerly known as a Residence Order) can take a child abroad for up to 4 weeks without the consent of the other parent. This is provided there is nothing in the Order preventing foreign travel.
If no such Order is in place then the Children Act makes it clear that you cannot take a child abroad without the consent of every person holding parental responsibility for that child. In most cases this will just be the consent of both parents and signed letter containing their contact details from the absent parent will usually be sufficient. If the child has a different surname to you then you should also take along the child’s birth certificate and a marriage certificate or copy of any Decree Absolute. Provided you are prepared and able to provide Customs officials with the relevant documents any delays should be minimal.
If your ex partner will not provide their consent or will not relinquish the child’s passport, you would need to apply to the Court for an Order allowing you to take your child abroad for a defined holiday or ordering the other parent to provide the passport. This is known as a Specific Issue Order.
Depending on your situation, it’s advisable to allow plenty of time before your holiday to ensure all the proper steps are followed, helping minimise stress, disruption and delays.
If you have questions about going abroad with your child or perhaps your ex partner wants to take the children on holiday and you have concerns, our dedicated Child Law team can help provide clear and practical guidance.