I want to take my minor son on holiday with me, but I am worried his father won’t consent. What do I do?
In order to take a child abroad, you must get the consent of every person with parental responsibility. Parental responsibility enables you to make important decisions about the care and welfare of your child including those relating to education, health care, religion and holidays abroad.
If you are the child’s mother, then you automatically have parental responsibility over that child. If you are the child’s father and you were married to the mother at the time of the birth, then you will also have parental responsibility. Other ways of acquiring parental responsibility are by being listed on the child’s birth certificate, getting a parental responsibility agreement with the mother of the child or by getting a parental responsibility order from the Court.
It is very important to get the consent of all those with parental responsibility as taking a child abroad without this consent is child abduction which is a criminal offence. If there is a child arrangement order in place which states that the child must live with you then you are able to take the child abroad without the consent of the other person with parental responsibility for a maximum of 28 days.
Consent should be given in writing as you may be asked to provide evidence of the consent at a UK or foreign border. It is also advisable to bring the child’s birth certificate with you and any relevant Court orders, especially if you have a different surname to the child to ensure that you have enough evidence to satisfy the border controls. You should also check the requirements of each country that you are travelling to as different countries have different rules. For example, South Africa requires you to have additional documents.
What if the other person does not consent?
If you do not have the consent of the other person with parental responsibility then you must apply to the Court for permission to take your child abroad. The order you will be applying for is known as a specific issue order. You must give the Court all the necessary information about your holiday such as the dates you are leaving and returning and the contact details of those which parental responsibility who are staying in the UK. The application will then get sent to the closest Court to you that deals with children matters and the matter will get listed for a Court hearing. These applications can take several weeks and therefore it is important that they are applied for some time before your anticipated holiday.
How can we help?
If you are planning a holiday with your child and are not sure about how to approach the subject with the other person who has parental responsibility, we can assist you by writing them a letter requesting their consent. If the other person has already stated that they will not be providing their consent, we can draft the relevant Court application for you and submit it to the Court.