Family holiday plans gone to Ashes

What you need to know about taking children abroad after separation

The Ashes test series has begun, the sun is shining; summer is here. Attentions naturally turn to holiday. But there’s a word of warning if you are divorced or separated – you must have written permission from your former partner before you take the children abroad. And this requirement extends to everyone who has parental responsibility for a child.

Both our UK and foreign border controls have a duty to make reasonable checks. As a result if permission is not sought, it could cause lot of problems at the UK or foreign border if you are asked for proof of permission and don’t have it. It could cause you to have your holiday cut short or in the worst case scenario it could be a criminal matter of Child Abduction.

Don’t let rain stop play

Thankfully, demonstrating permission is not complicated in most cases – a letter or email from your former partner with his or her contact details on it may suffice. Ask them to confirm their agreement in writing, giving some basic details about the holiday such as the child’s name, your destination, flight numbers and timings. If you are going further afield then the embassies usually list the type of information their boarder controls may seek and it may always be worthwhile researching at the embassy websites in any event.

Other practical considerations before you go on holiday include making sure you have a copy of the permission letter, the children’s birth certificates and your marriage certificate or decree absolute of divorce (if you have one) with you, particularly if your surname is now different to your child’s.

The sticky wicket

But, what if your former partner will not give permission? As a lawyer who manages this problem, my advice is try to avoid it in the first place. The best advice is always to try and agree holidays where possible well in advance and, importantly, before anything is booked. Keeping your partner fully informed as to your plans can go a long way to prevent issues. Provide them with key information ideally writing such as flight details, hotel details and a number you can be contacted on in case of emergency.

If this doesn’t work and they refuse then the only way to travel without permission is to apply to the court. But a word of warning, these proceedings can take some time and you may need legal support, so if you think there may be an issue it’s worth allowing two to three months for it to be resolved. The good news is that provided there are no serious welfare concerns or risks of abduction, the court usually grants permission.

For further advice and information please contact Family Solicitor, Katy Barber on 023 8071 8056 or email: