While there is much to organise when travelling abroad with your family, if you are a separated parent or you have a different surname to that of your children, there are some additional factors to consider to help ensure you have the appropriate permission and can avoid potential issues. Stowe Senior Associate Zoe Carter has compiled a list of FAQs to guide you through travelling abroad with children after divorce.
Do I need permission from my ex-partner to travel abroad with our children after divorce?
Yes. You must have permission from those with parental responsibility for the child, to take them abroad.
The only exception to this is where the parent travelling with the child or children has a child arrangement order stating that the children must live with them. In this instance, they can take the child aboard for up to 28 days without the consent of the other parent.
Why do I need permission from my ex to travel abroad with our children?
Where you have shared parental responsibility for your children, it’s essential to obtain permission to take your children abroad. Failing to do so could lead to criminal charges for child abduction.
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. However, it’s worth remembering that they do not all share the same legal system. If you remove a child from one legal system within the UK to another legal system, this may effectively amount to going “abroad” such as travelling from England or Wales to Scotland.
How do I get permission from my ex to travel abroad with our children?
You can obtain permission to travel aboard with your children directly from your ex-partner or through solicitors if more appropriate. Permission should be given in writing.
How do I know if I have parental responsibility for my children?
Parental responsibility is automatically given to mothers and is given to fathers who are either named on the birth certificate of the child or married to the mother when the child is born. Parental responsibility can also be granted via court order or by entering into a Parental Responsibility Agreement.
If you are the only parent with parental responsibility and there are no orders in place, permission is not needed from your ex-partner to travel abroad with your child. It is however recommended that you advice them of your plans.
What documents should I take with me when I travel?
You could be asked for evidence of your permission to travel with your children 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 – ideally with a copy of the their passport
- 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
- The specifics of your trip.
While this sounds like a lot of preparation, and risky carrying important documentation, without the relevant paperwork you may find yourself refused entry into your destination of choice.
Can I travel abroad when I have a different surname to my child?
It is common for parents to have different surnames to their children. However, there are still instances where parents with different surnames to their children are questioned by UK or overseas border control and asked to provide evidence that they are legally travelling with their children. Understandably, these checks are to prevent child abduction but nevertheless can cause disruption to consensual family holidays.
Carrying the right documentation can help to alleviate potential stress, upset, or even a missed flight! Official agencies will need to be satisfied with your relationship with the child, so it’s advisable that you carry:-
- Your child’s birth or adoption certificate
- Proof of name change – if your name has changed since your child was born you may also need to take evidence such as a change of name deed or marriage certificate
- It may also be beneficial to carry an expired passport, if this is in the name you held at the time of your child’s birth.
Depending on the age of your children, It may also be worth giving them some warning that they could potentially be asked questions by immigration officials and to reassure them that they do not need to worry and should answer honestly.
Is there a limit on how long I can go away for?
There can arguably be no limit on the duration of your holiday, provided you have the permission of your ex-partner who also has parental responsibility for your children.
If you have an order which states that the child lives with only you, unless the court order says you can’t, you can take your child abroad for 28 days without permission of the other parent.
What if my ex won’t agree?
If your ex-partner has parental responsibility and does not consent (and you do not have an order confirming the child lives with only you) you will need to make an application to court for the court’s permission before you can travel.
The court will consider whether the holiday is in the best interests of the child and, in most cases, will grant permission for abroad travel provided there are no concerns about a child not being returned.
Get in touch
For more information about travelling abroad with your children after divorce or separation please do get in touch with our Client Care Team using the details below or make an online enquiry