Holidays over the Easter break: The rights of parents and carers
With the Easter holidays fast approaching our family team look at the rights of parents in terms of taking their children on holiday.
As schools approach the Easter break many parents will be looking to take their children away on holiday. For separated parents that can often lead to confusion as to whether permission is required from the other parent, creating stress at a time which should otherwise be enjoyable.
What is Parental Responsibility?
Parental Responsibility is the term given to the rights, duties, obligations and authorities held by a parent in relation to a child, which gives the parent responsibility to make decisions in the child’s life. Parental Responsibility is a key factor when considering taking children on holiday.
A child’s mother will automatically have Parental Responsibility, as will fathers who are married to the mother at the time of the child’s birth and fathers who are registered on the child’s birth certificate. Parental Responsibility can also be acquired by way of Parental Responsibility Agreements, Parental Responsibility Orders and Child Arrangement Orders. You should seek advice from a solicitor if you are unsure whether you have Parental Responsibility.
What is a Child Arrangements Order?
A ‘Child Arrangements Order’ is a type of court order that can specify who children should live with or otherwise spend time with. Whether or not any such order is in place determines which rules parents must follow when considering taking their children on holiday. The order may also specifically provide permission for children to be taken on holiday, so the terms of any such order should be considered carefully.
What are the rules if there is no Child Arrangements Order in place?
If no Child Arrangements Order is in place it is a criminal offence for a parent to remove a child from the UK without either the consent from all persons with Parental Responsibility for the child or the permission of the court.
It would be advisable to communicate with those with Parental Responsibility well in advance of the proposed holiday with a view to obtaining the required consent in writing.
What are the rules if there is a Child Arrangements Order in place?
The situation is slightly different if a Child Arrangements Order is in place. In these situations, if a person with whom the child is directed to live with by virtue of Child Arrangements Order seeks to take the child on holiday outside of the UK, they can do so for a period of up to 28 days without needing either consent from those with Parental Responsibility or the permission of the court.
If the holiday is expected to last for longer than 28 days, consent from those with Parental Responsibility or the permission of the court is needed.
However, any person who is not stated in the Child Arrangements Order to be the person with whom the child is to live with, does require the written consent of all persons with Parental Responsibility or the permission of the court to take the child abroad on holiday.
What can be done if consent cannot be obtained?
If consent to take the child on holiday cannot be obtained from all persons with Parental Responsibility, or if consent is unreasonably refused, you can seek to obtain the permission of the court. In order to do so you will need to apply for a type of court order known as a ‘Specific Issue Order’, which can make decisions on matters arising in relation to the care of a child including, amongst other things, decisions concerning taking children on holidays.
What could happen if consent or permission is not obtained?
If you are required to obtain consent from those with Parental Responsibility or permission of the court but fail to do so, you will be committing a criminal offence and you may face criminal charges for child abduction. Those with Parental Responsibility, who should have been asked to provide consent, may also seek to obtain a type of court order known as a ‘Prohibited Steps Order’. This type of order could, if granted, prevent the child from being taken on holiday.
Considering your rights in respect of the care of your children following divorce or separation can be complicated. If you are unsure of your rights or are in need of advice, Sternberg Reed’s family team are here to support you. Contact us on 0208 591 3366 or visit our website using the link below where our team will be happy to help advise you on matters surrounding separation and child care.
Emily Minton, solicitor.
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