Do you need permission to take your children out of the country after Separation?

Published: 16th March 2016

Many separated parents are unaware that they may need permission from the other parent to take their child(ren) out of the jurisdiction of England and Wales on holiday. Legally, where parents are separated and one parent wants to take the child(ren) out of the country temporarily, on holiday for example, the parent removing the child(ren) may need to obtain permission from every person with Parental Responsibility - which means those with the legal rights, duties, powers, responsibilities and authority a parent has for a child and the child's property.

When is permission not required?

Where a Child Arrangements Order (CAO) is in place (formerly known as a Residence Order), the parent whom the order is made in favour of can take the child(ren) out of the jurisdiction for a period of up to one month without needing to seek permission from the other parent. It is however advisable to let the other parent know what the arrangements are - even where no permission is required as it keeps relations amicable and means the other parent can be notified in case of an emergency.

When is permission required?

In cases without a CAO, the parent wishing to take the child(ren) out of the jurisdiction will need permission from the other parent, preferably in writing, before they can leave. If permission is not granted, a Court application will need to be made to seek permission to remove the child(ren) from the jurisdiction. The Court will usually grant permission if it is satisfied that the reasons for going are genuine and that the child(ren) will be returned to the United Kingdom.

However, the court can refuse permission where a threat has been made to permanently remove the child(ren) to a certain country and/orthere exists a link with that country and a parent is seeking permission to take the child(ren) there. If the risk that the child(ren) may not be returned is greater than any benefit they may gain from going on holiday, the Court may refuse permission.

The parent whose permission is sought may also make a Court application called a Prohibited Steps Order to prevent the child(ren) from leaving the country, especially where a threat has been made to remove the child(ren) permanently.The Court would consider the application and apply the same factors as for an application to remove.

It is important to understand that removing children out of the jurisdiction without the permission of everyone with Parental Responsibility, where such permission is required, is a criminal offence and may be punished by fine or imprisonment.

For more information, or to arrange a free 45 minute consultation with a member of our team, please contact K J Smith Solicitors today on 01491 630000 (Henley on Thames), 020 7070 0330 (London), 0118 418 1000 (Reading), 01753 325000 (Windsor), 01256 584000 (Basingstoke) or 01483 370100 (Guildford).

This article was written by Olive Gathoni.

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