We’re all going on a Summer holiday…..or maybe we are not?
If you are separated and have children, with the approaching Summer break you ought to be aware of the rules in relation to taking your children abroad.
If your former partner has acquired Parental Responsibility for the children and they reside with you by agreement then unless you have a Residence Order now known as a Child Arrangements Order to live with you or the Court has given consent to your proposed trip, you cannot take your children abroad without the other parent’s agreement.
If you do have a residence order now known as a Child Arrangements order then you are entitled to remove the children from the jurisdiction (England and Wales )without the other parent’s permission for a period of less than one month, even though the other parent has Parental Responsibility. In practice it would be sensible to ensure you have the other’s agreement even if a Residence Order is in force.
If permission is withheld by the other parent with Parental Responsibility and in the absence of a residence order then an application for a Specific Issue Order must be made to the Court by the parent looking to remove the children from the jurisdiction.
It is important to consider these issues in advance of any planned trip as in the absence of child welfare issues or emergencies you would be required to mediate the dispute by attending Mediation. Mediation is an impartial process which can often to lead to the resolution of issues by discussion rather than the Court being required to adjudicate the matter.
If no agreement is reached at Mediation then an application must be made in a timely manner as Children Act applications can take the court some time to resolve particularly if welfare issues are raised by either parent causing the court to direct the preparation of a Cafcass report. If agreement still cannot be reached then the matter would be subject to a contested hearing where you might need to give oral evidence at Court.
If the Court is required to adjudicate this issue the Court will consider what is in the best interests of the child concerned and the parent seeking to remove the child for the holiday may be required to provide a promise to the Court regarding returning the child.
In the event that the grandparents wish to take the children abroad, then the consent and permission of both parents with Parental Responsibility would be required.
It is perhaps self evident that it is best to agree holiday arrangements in advance to avoid misunderstandings and dispute.
It is vital that you obtain professional advice from an experienced solicitor whether you are intending to take your children on holiday or are concerned that the children will not be returned at the conclusion of the holiday.