Family holidays post divorce: have you got permission?

If you’re taking your children away on holiday in August, and you’re divorced with shared legal responsibility for your children, it may not be a case of just packing your bags and jetting off to the sun this summer.

Get permission to travel from your ex

man on beach with 3 children walking in wavesIt is a criminal offence to remove a child from England or Wales without parental consent and yes, it is classed as ‘child abduction’. (In fact, this offence applies to any parent, divorced or not.)

So, you do need your ex-spouse’s permission if you have shared legal parental responsibility, or are not in possession of an order in place stating where the children live (a residence order). However, even with this order in place, you can only remove your child for up to a month without the other parent’s consent or a further court order.


What to do if your ex won’t give permission

If your ex-spouse does not give permission, you can apply to the court for a Specific Issues application that covers just the permission for holiday leave. Whilst most courts will allow issue an order for foreign holidays, they will take into consideration if you are going to visit family in another country or if the country has signed up to the Hague Convention’s international child abduction laws.


How Leiper Gupta Family Lawyers can help without the need for court

Getting a court order can be a lengthy and costly process, and may not be necessary. We have extensive experience in resolving such matters via correspondence. We can negotiate on your behalf with your ex-spouse to ensure the outcome that’s best for the whole family, without the additional stress of court or prolonged wrangles when all you want is to take a relaxing holiday with your children. Call us 01189 739 749 for more details.


What to do if you are worried your ex might not bring the children back

Where there is concern that a parent might not return from abroad with the children, that parent can give the court an Undertaking to return the children to the UK on a specific date. Failure to do so is a serious offence involving large fines and possible imprisonment. The travelling parent can also lodge a sum of money as a financial bond.


Always plan holiday dates in advance

It’s always a good plan to talk through holiday arrangement with your ex-spouse before either of you book anything. This way, the kids can plan their holidays too – and have breathing space between trips to catch up with friends and grandparents.


Tell your ex where you are going

If you have shared legal parental responsibility, you should give the details of your holiday destination, including dates and contact numbers, to your spouse, just in case. This works both ways – the at-home parent should let you know where they will be while you’re away for the same reason.


Sort out your paperwork well in advance

For holidays to certain countries, a passport may not be sufficient for the border authorities. Some countries require the written agreement of the absent parent before allowing a single parent in with their children. If your children’s surname is different from yours, also take copies of relevant documents such as birth certificates, marriage certificates and divorce decrees. If required, get vaccination certificates from your ex-spouse if they hold them in good time for the holiday.


Parental contact while on holiday

Just as your kids share their everyday lives with you both, they should also share their holiday experiences too. Make time for kids on holiday to send postcards, texts or photos back to their home-based parent. Equally, ask your children to keep in touch with you while they are away (most holiday hotels have wifi these days), and make time for a ‘show and tell’ by your kids when they return.

Above all, remember that holidays should be fun for everyone, even if you’re the one at home with a bit more ‘me’ time to enjoy the garden than normal!


Any questions? Call us

If you have any questions about shared parental responsibility, or need help with correspondence or securing court applications, do call. We are specialists in family law and we always work with the best interests of the children in mind.