Summer is Coming – Planning a Holiday With the Children?

Whilst the weather may have us think differently, we are rapidly moving into the summer months. The May half term school holiday break is always a timely reminder that it will not be long before the long summer holiday period is upon us.

For those parents who are separated it is usually around this time that plans are being made for the children to spend time with each of them during the holidays.

It is very important that separated parents do give thought at an early stage to the arrangements for the summer holidays, especially where flights and accommodation are to be booked and paid for.

Where a child arrangement order (formally known as a residence order) is in force a child may not be taken out of the country for more than one month without the consent of all the other people who have parental responsibility or unless they have permission of the court.

Indeed, in the situation where there is no child arrangement order the consent of any person with parental responsibility must be obtained before a child is taken out of the jurisdiction at all, even if this is for a short holiday. Many parents are not aware of this and can come as a shock to them to discover that their former partner (or the court) can possibly prevent the holiday going ahead

Failing to obtain such consent, or alternatively a court order, could in theory amount to child abduction.

I have seen an increasing number of situations over the last few years where separated parents are not aware of the law surrounding taking children out of the country.

Therefore it is important for any parent considering taking a holiday out of the jurisdiction of England & Wales to ensure that permission of the other parent with parental responsibility is obtained in advance.

It is important to allow plenty of time to obtain that consent because if it is withheld then that gives the opportunity of making an application to court for an order.  Orders made by the court in such circumstances are known as specific issue orders.

The court will consider all the circumstances of the case and apply a welfare checklist to make a decision considered to be in the best interest of the children involved.  In my experience the courts are usually keen, where appropriate, to ensure that the children are allowed to spend good quality summer foreign holiday time with both of their parents but given that such holidays usually last one or two weeks then one consideration is the length of time that the child or children will be away from the other parent.

It is always advisable to consult a specialist in family law because there is no “one size fits all” approach to such issues.

For more information on the above, please contact James Maguire & Co and to speak to one of our specialist family law solicitors: +44 (0) 1625 544650 or email: henry.venables@family-law.co.uk

James Maguire & Co are a leading divorce and family law practice with clients all over the UK and internationally.

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