Child arrangements when going on holiday. What you need to know.
22 April 2021 by Lisa O'Boyle
Following the government’s roadmap for easing of lockdown, there has been a surge in bookings for travelling abroad as a result many families also have the added insecurity of making decisions with separated co-parents. Following on from this week’s Law Society Solicitor Chat, Lisa O’Boyle from the FJG’s Family Law team has provided some answers to a few frequently asked questions on what steps can you take to ensure you are compliant with your child arrangements when making holiday plans.
As a separated parent, how can I ensure taking my children abroad complies with any custody arrangement I have?
Regardless of any custody arrangements, in order to take a child abroad, you need the consent of all others with parental responsibility for the children. Otherwise, you may be committing a criminal offence of child abduction. If the other parent does not consent, an application for the court’s permission will be necessary. If there is an order that the child lives with you, it may not be necessary to seek the other parent’s written consent to take the child abroad for less than 1 month however it is important to ensure that the child is made available to spend time with the other parent in accordance with the order, any on-off variation in order for the child to go abroad needs to be agreed with the other parent or apply for the court’s permission. It is best to record agreements between parents in writing.
What happens if the other parent refuses to let this happen, despite taking my children abroad themselves?
If the other parent does not consent, an application for the court’s permission will be necessary. The other parent may oppose the application but will need to demonstrate good reasons supported by the children’s welfare.
What happens if the other parent agrees but then changes their mind after I have paid a deposit?
If the parent withdraws consent after the deposit have been paid but before they have gone abroad, then you would need to make an application for the court’s permission in order to take the child abroad. The outcome will depend on whether there are good reasons, related to the child’s welfare, for the parent changing their mind.
Are there any circumstances when the other parent would be liable for costs if they stop the children coming on the agreed holiday?
If there is an existing child arrangements order in place, and it is breached, the parent seeking to enforce the order can also apply for compensation.
How can using a Solicitor help ensure compliance of custody agreements?
A Solicitor can write to the other parent seeking their written consent for holiday abroad, explain the legal position, and focus the other parent on the children’s welfare. A Solicitor can advise and represent in making an application to court if necessary when the other parent does not consent.