The school summer break is almost upon us and you’ve probably already planned your holidays, but – did you know that, without permission from all people who have parental responsibility for your child, it is illegal to take that child out of England and Wales – unless you have been granted permission from the Family Court?
Have you got a child arrangements order?
If you’ve already been granted a child arrangements order (formerly known as a residence order) by the Family Court, stating that a child is to live with a you, then you may take that child out of the country on holiday for up to 4 weeks at a time without permission from the other parent. This is provided that the holiday won’t conflict with time that a court order says your child would ordinarily spend with their other parent. If the intended period of travel is longer than 28 days, then you will need permission from everyone with parental responsibility or authority from the Family Court . The same criteria applies if your child’s other parent wants to take him/her on holiday outside England or Wales.
If want to take your child on holiday and his/her other parent will not agree, you can make an application to the Family Court for a specific issue order, asking for permission to take the child on holiday – outside England or Wales.
Here at Family Matters, we sometimes come across situations where one parent tries to prevent the other from taking their child on holiday, for instance, if they feel that the proposed holiday may not be in the child’s best interests for some particular reason. This may be, for example, because the holiday is proposed in school time or is to a high-risk destination. In these circumstances the concerned parent can make an application to the Family Court for a prohibited steps order, asking for the proposed holiday to be prevented.
Whenever the Family Court is asked to consider an application dealing with children, its paramount consideration will be the child’s welfare.
Making a court application is an expensive, time-consuming process and it can often damage relations between parents, when they should be working together to best meet their child’s needs. Court proceedings should always be viewed as a last resort.
Work with the other parent
The sensible approach to the division of school holidays is to try to agree them as soon as the holiday timetable for the school year is known. You can approach to the other parent, setting out your suggestions for division of time for each holiday and highlighting any proposed holidays abroad. You should give the other parent full details of all holidays, including, destination, dates, accommodation address, telephone numbers and flight numbers etc. It is essential to let the other parent know where the child is going in case of an emergency.
Also, if you are planning on taking your children abroad and they have a different surname to you, it is worth having written permission from the parent whose surname they share detailing their address, contact details and passport number. It’s not always necessary, but can prevent the heart stopping moments at passport control.
If you are unable to reach agreement with the other parent, come and talk to our specialist family mediators who can help you to sort matters without the need to apply for court orders, so you can all enjoy your summer holidays with your children and continue to be able to get on with your ex.
Juliette Dalrymple, director at Family Matters