With hours to fill at the airport before you even get on a flight, travelling abroad with your little ones can be taxing enough. However, many parents are finding a whole new problem before they get past passport control.
If you don’t share a surname with your children, all of you could be stopped and face questioning if you don’t have the official documents to prove you are their mum or dad.
With school summer holidays on the horizon, we’ve put together a five-step survival guide to ensure your trip runs smoothly from the very start.
1. Airline Checks
Contact the airline you are travelling with to notify them and see if they have any advice about what documents to carry with you or the specific entry requirements of the country you are travelling to.
2. Foreign Country Rules
Each country can have different rules about travelling with children. You can contact the relevant foreign embassy in the UK to ask and find out up to what age their country considers people children and check what extra documentation, if any, is needed.
3. Preparing Documents
Make sure you have any extra documents you need with you when you travel. Documents to help prove your relationship with your child may include a birth certificate, adoption certification and marriage or divorce certificates.
4. Parental Permissions
If you have a child arrangements court order which determined that your child should live with you then you can take your child abroad for up to one month without consent. Whilst you are not legally required to provide a letter of consent from the other parent of your child in this situation, if you are divorced, a letter of authority from the other parent may prove useful.
In all other circumstances if you wish to take your child outside of the UK you must obtain the permission of all those with parental responsibility. This includes the mother, the father (provided they were married when the child was born or alternatively were named on the birth certificate) and those who have obtained it through a parental responsibility agreement (grandparents are amongst the most common in this category).
TOP TIP: If you are separated, make sure to discuss holidays with your ex well in advance so that the other parent can make plans with your children for another time if they so wish, and if they refuse to give consent you can apply for a specific issue order.
Taking a child outside of the UK without the other parent’s consent could be classed as child abduction. So if the other parent refuses to give permission then you should not take them without a successful application for a specific issue order.
A specific issue order is where you apply to the court for a decision on whether you can take your child or children on holiday. Assist the court in your application by providing them with all the details of the holiday you have planned including the dates, flights and hotel information to help give your application the best chance possible.
If you plan on holidaying abroad with your children or have concerns as to arrangements for their care you can talk with a children lawyer to help clarify your legal situation. For further advice call us on freephone 0800 916 9055 or contact us online.
Joanne Green is a family lawyer at Slater and Gordon in Milton Keynes.