My partner wants to take our children abroad – what can I do?

Parents are often unaware of the rights they have in relation to the care of their children, particularly when it comes to taking a child abroad either for a holiday or to permanently relocate. This can be a particularly difficult issue where the parents of the child are separated and disagree about whether the child can be taken abroad.

How should permission be obtained?

Any person with parental responsibility for a child is permitted to take them abroad. However, permission must be obtained from all persons with parental responsibility before the child can be taken abroad. Failure to obtain permission before taking the child abroad will amount to child abduction.

A person with parental responsibility can also take the child abroad for 28 days without permission where there is child arrangements order in place which states that the child must live with that person, provided there are no other orders in place which prevent that person from going abroad with the child.

How should permission be obtained?

It is best to have the permission in writing and for all parties with parental responsibility to be provided with full details of the trip abroad, to include:

  1. Flight details;
  2. Destination;
  3. Accommodation; and
  4. The period of time to be spent abroad.

Can I stop my child from being taken abroad?

If a person with parental responsibility does not give their permission for the child to be taken abroad, the relevant parties will need to make an application to the court for such permission. The court will require you to set out all the details of the proposed trip and will need to be satisfied that it is in the interests of the child to be taken abroad.

What about permanent relocation?

Whether or not a person can relocate with their child is a complex issue. Again, if all parties with parental responsibility are able to agree on the relocation of the child then this usually will not create an issue. Where the parties are unable to agree, it will be necessary to make an application to the court for an order that either allows or prevents the relocation.

It is important to note that relocation is covered by both moving within the UK as well as overseas.

The court’s primary consideration when looking at a child’s relocation is the child’s welfare. This is not to say that the court will disregard the wishes of the parents, but that the child’s interest will always prevail where the court is unable to accommodate every party’s wishes. The court will also look at whether the person who wishes to relocate has a genuine desire to do so and a realistic plan for their relocation with the child. The court is unlikely to permit relocation where it is seen as an attempt by one parent to prevent the child from having contact with the other parent.

The court will have regard to what is known as the welfare checklist under section 1(3) of the Children Act 1989 and will evaluate each of the following factors individually when considering whether to allow a permanent relocation:

  1. the ascertainable wishes and feelings of the child concerned (considered in the light of the child’s age and understanding);
  2. the child’s physical, emotional and educational needs;
  3. the likely effect on the child of any change in their circumstances;
  4. the child’s age, sex, background and any characteristics of theirs which the court considers relevant;
  5. any harm which the child has suffered or is at risk of suffering;
  6. how capable each of the child’s parents, and any other person in relation to whom the court considers the question to be relevant, is of meeting their needs;
  7. the range of powers available to the court under this Act in the proceedings in question.

What if I need further advice?

We have an experienced team of solicitors who will be able to assist you with any queries you might have in relation to taking children abroad for holidays or relocation.

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