However, if you are planning to travel with a child there are a number of things that you should consider before you go.
It is important that if you are taking a child abroad you have consent from all those who have “parental responsibility” for the child. Although it is not essential, you may find things run a little more smoothly at the airport if you take a signed note from any parents who are not travelling with the child (particularly if you do not share the same surname as the child, in which case you might also want to take the child’s birth certificate with you as well). This applies to parents, grandparents or even friends who want to travel abroad with a child.
On the other hand if you have the benefit of a Child Arrangements Order stipulating that the child lives with you (what used to be known as a “Residence Order”), then you are able to take that child abroad for up to 4 weeks without the consent of the other parent. It may be helpful to take a copy of any Family Court orders with you when you travel to avoid any awkward questions at Passport Control.
In some cases however you might find the other parent with parental responsibility refuses to give their consent to your foreign holiday with the children, and there are no court orders in force to assist you. If this is the case you will need to apply to the Court for something called a “Specific Issue Order”. The Court would then need to look into the matter and decide whether it is best for the children to be allowed to travel. If you do not do this then you run the risk of being stopped at the border or even forced to return to the UK which would be embarrassing for you and distressing for the children.
These can be tricky legal issues to sort out, so it is important you take some professional advice as soon as possible (and in plenty of time before your holiday). For more information, you should contact one of our specialist family solicitors who would be happy to see you at an initial appointment to discuss your options and advise you further.