Happy Holidays?

I was recently asked “what is the legal position if my ex objects to me taking my child abroad?”  The lawyer’s answer is of course “it depends”! 

Generally, if the holiday is a short one, in the school holidays, in Europe a Judge would be likely to consider it in the child’s best interests and grant permission to go. However a longer trip, further afield (where English Court Orders for the return of children are not enforceable) might be a different matter.  Especially if the holidaying parent has connections aboard so there is an increased risk of no return.

Legally, where a Residence Order is in place no one can take a child abroad without the permission of the court or each person who holds Parental Responsibility save for the person with the Residence Order who can take the child abroad for a period of up to 4 weeks without the permissions. (Children Act 1989 Section 13).  However, usually neither parent has a Residence Order so matters can end up being an expensive trip to court.  Since April 2013 the Government has abolished Legal Aid for such matters so often going to court is more expensive than the proposed holiday itself! 

It would be a real shame and a huge expense, if a parent has to make an application to the Court for permission to take a child on a standard package holiday in Europe.  My recommendation is for parents to think about the bigger picture. Emotions and anger with the other parent over the breakdown of the relationship may run high but the benefit to the child of a holiday should not be underestimated. Nor the signal sent to the child if the holiday is scuppered by his own parent, due to adult disputes.

Try to work together to come to an agreement well before the proposed travel date. Failing that, consult a specialist family lawyer early on who will work to achieve a pragmatic and cost effective resolution.  Avoid an expensive and often slowly processed court application wherever possible.