We’re all going on a summer holiday?
Have you looked outside recently? Wondering when you will get some sun to replenish your depleted vitamin D levels? If that is the case, then you are probably thinking about a holiday! But before you start Googling sunny destinations, if you are a parent who is separated from your child’s other parent, then read this first as it may surprise you.
Did you know that when you have a child, it is a criminal offence to remove them from England and Wales, without the permission of everyone who has parental responsibility?
You will have parental responsibility if you are a mother of a child, a father who is named on the birth certificate or if you were married to your child’s mother.
If the court has made a child arrangement order, and if you have a ‘Lives With Order’ (historically known as a residence order) then you can remove a child for up to one month under the terms of that order, subject to any conditions which may have been agreed/imposed.
Hopefully consent will not be an issue, but sometimes life is not that easy. So, what do you do if you are having trouble in this respect? A holiday should be exciting, something to look forward, so here are some tips that might help you:
Be open and provide details
Obviously, if you are just thinking about a holiday, you might not have all the information listed below, but it is still a good idea to start talking about the plans to see if you can at least agree in principle that a holiday is a good idea and you can get a sense of how easy reaching an agreement and obtaining that all important permission will be.
When giving the other parent information about the proposed holiday, think about what you would like to know if the tables were turned. Sometimes there can be lots of resistance about providing information, but if the worst comes to the worst, you are going to have to provide detailed information to the court, so why not do it now, and hope that an agreement can be reached. These details will include:
- Your destination: Be as specific as possible and remember that the information could be essential in an emergency. Usually, you should provide the name of the resort you will be staying at, the address and contact details. Nowadays most people will be able to take their normal mobile with them so there should not be an issue with being able to make contact, but why not provide the telephone number of the hotel too. This is partly about reassuring the other parent, but also could be essential if something were to happen in the part of the world where you travelled.
- Your travel arrangements: It is usual to provide details full details of your travel arrangements, how will you be travelling, the time of your flights, who are you flying with etc. Why not provide a copy of the travel tickets so all that information is in one place?
- Your schedule: If you are going to be undertaking outings during your holiday which will involve staying elsewhere, then provide those details too. It may be that you do not know before you go the precise details, or even if you will want to travel around once you are there, but if that is the case why not reassure the other parent that if things change, you will let them know.
- Passports: One of the things that can create problems concern the handover and return of passports. Most of the time the passports will be kept with the parent with whom the child lives for the most time. But naturally, where there may have been some difficulty in obtaining consent, the other party may be worried that the handover of the passport will be problematic. So why not agree that it is handed over a week before travel, so if there are problems, you can ask the court to resolve the matter on an urgent basis. Again, when you return, agree in advance that the passport will be returned with your child.
- Contact: When someone is resistant to letting their child go on holiday, one of the issues may be about the amount of time they will not see/speak with the child, so why not agree times when phone calls/skype calls can take place. Not only will this ease the other parent’s worries, it is also a great opportunity for your child to let the other parent know about all the exciting things that they are doing and to talk about what they have seen etc., a beneficial thing for both of them.
- Get it in writing: If you can reach an agreement, set it out in writing and sign it. Remember, sometimes you may need specific documents/consents depending on which country you are going to, so you should check that before you travel.
What if you still can’t agree
If you still cannot reach an agreement, then you will need to consider your other options. Perhaps mediation may help, and if all else fails, you can make an application to the court for a specific issue order. This application will allow the court to consider whether the holiday is in the best interests of the child (and usually it will be) and to make an order to permit the holiday to take place even if the other party will not agree. These applications will need to be made early, so if you are thinking of going on holiday this summer and you think you might not be able to agree, now is the time to start the process of trying to agree and if an agreement cannot be reached, to make an application to the court.
If you require further advice in this respect, please contact Stephen Talbot at Calibrate Law to discuss your options and to obtain tailored advice specific to your circumstances.
This paper is intended to be a brief note for clients and other interested parties. The information is believed to be correct at the date of publication but should not be relied upon as a substitute for professional advice. Please speak to a member of our team.