• Greyfriars Solicitors

Can I take my child abroad for Christmas?

Christmas is always a popular time to travel abroad, whether you are visiting friends and family, or escaping the cold.

For separated parents, besides the usual holiday things to worry about, you also have another thing to consider: are you able to legally take your child abroad?

Below is a list of things to consider before travelling abroad with your child:

  • 1. Do you have the consent of all persons with parental responsibility?

Unless a court order gives specific permission, you will need the consent of all persons with parental responsibility.

Parental responsibility is having all the rights, duties, powers, responsibilities, and authority which a legal parent of a child has in relation to the child and their property.

As a rule, mother's automatically have parental responsibility. A father will automatically have parental responsibility if he is married to the mother at the time of the child's birth, or if they are registered on the birth certificate. If a father does not have parental responsibility, they may acquire it through order of the court, or through a parental responsibility agreement.

Travelling abroad without the consent of all persons with parental responsibility constitutes child abduction. Child abduction is a criminal offence. This will apply to all countries, except Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland.

  • 2. Do you have a court order permitting you to travel?

If you do not have parental responsibility, you may apply to the court for an order permitting you to travel with your child. This need only happen if there is not already an order in place allowing you to do so.

  • 3. Does the court order attach conditions?

It is common practice for courts to order consent/permission with certain conditions attached. These conditions may include: providing the other parent with full details of the holiday, only allowing travel to certain countries, specifying hand over arrangements, indirect contact.

  • 4. Have you researched the legal requirements for the country you are visiting?

Every country has different requirements regarding children travelling abroad without both parents. It is important that you known what the requirements are for the country you wish to visit, as a court order may be required.

  • 5. Do you have all necessary travel documents?

As well as travelling with your child's passport, it is advisable to also travel with a copy of your child's birth certificate. This is particularly important if the child has a different name to you.

It is important to take these things into account at an early stage. However, with Christmas around the corner, if you require advice and assistance, we are able to help on an emergency basis.

Contact us to book an initial consultation.

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