We’re all going on a summer holiday….aren’t we?

Spring has most definitely sprung here in the west of Scotland and I’m sure many people will now be thinking about the fast-approaching summer and planning holidays. For separated or divorced parents making arrangements can sometimes be problamatic, so it is always our advice to start having discussions as early as possible.

Below, we consider the most common questions asked we are asked.

Do I need permission from my ex-partner to travel abroad with our child?

Yes. You must have permission from those with parental responsibility for the child, in order to take them abroad.

The law says that consent is required by all of those people who have Parental Rights and responsibilities to enable a child to travel abroad for a holiday.

Is there a need for written consent?

The law in Scotland does not expressly state that written consent is required but in practice, it is likely that having some form of written consent, would be helpful in order for the travelling party to show that consent has been provided even if that is just in the form of an email

What is classed as ‘abroad’?

Abroad is defined as anywhere outside of the UK. The UK does not include the Channel Islands or Isle of Man.  There are 4 countries that form the UK: England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Island.

What documents should I take with me when I travel?

You could be asked for evidence of your permission to travel with your child and your relationship to them, at a UK or foreign border. So, to avoid unwelcome issues and ensure that you’re prepared it’s advisable that you take all of the relevant documentation. This includes:

  • Written consent to the trip from your ex-partner
  • Proof of your own relationship with the child such as their birth or adoption certificates
  • Divorce or marriage certificate if your surname is different from your child’s
  • Full contact details of the consenting parent

A holiday should be an enjoyable experience for all. It may be the first time your child has been away from you for any extended period of time and while it is natural to have concerns about your children being away from you it is important that you try and communicate, if you are able to, with your ex-partner.

Communication may not always be easy between the adults so consider the benefits of using a process like mediation to deal with specific worries like holiday arrangements. A mediator can help you both find some common ground by looking at all the options available and hopefully you can both be reassured about the holiday arrangements that are to take place.

What if the other parent won’t consent to the holiday?

If your ex-partner has parental responsibility and does not consent you will need to make an application to court for the court’s permission before you can travel. This is known as a specific issue order.

The court will consider whether the holiday is in the best interests of the child and, in most cases, will grant permission for foreign travel provided there are no concerns about a child not being returned.

A Court will consider each case on its own facts and circumstances and reach a decision based on what it considers to be in the best interests of the child. The court must regard the welfare of the child as its paramount consideration (the “necessity” principle)

The court is prevented from making an order unless it would be better for the child that the order be made than that none should be made at all (the “minimum intervention” principle)

The court must, so far as is practicable, give the child an opportunity to indicate whether he or she wishes to express views and if so to give an opportunity to express them

When assessing welfare, the Court will consider a number of factors. The list isn’t exhaustive, however common considerations may be: the age of the child, the duration of the holiday, the destination of travel, any specific health needs the child may have and whether they can be met while the child is away from home and, provision for indirect contact with the other parent during the trip.

The extended holiday time between the child and their other parent is important for nurturing their ongoing relationship and our family law Team have experience in successfully obtaining specific issue orders where consent has not been willingly provided.

If you would like further information regarding the topic discussed in this blog, please contact Sarah Feeney by email – sfeeney@gilsongray.co.uk or telephone 0141 530 2021

You can also visit our Family Law Team page for more information here.

The information and opinions contained this blog are for information only.  They are not intended to constitute advice and should not be relied upon or considered as a replacement for advice.  Before acting on any information contained in this blog, please seek solicitor’s advice from Gilson Gray.

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