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Taking children abroad after divorce - what you need to know

If you are planning on taking your child or children abroad, whether for a holiday or to live permanently, you need the permission of their other parent and anyone else who has parental responsibility. Taking a child overseas without this permission is classed as child abduction and is a crime. For people who are divorced, this can be more complicated as you will normally need to reach an agreement with your ex-partner before you can legally take your child or children overseas.

In this blog, we will look at exactly who has parental responsibility for a child, what you need to make sure you can pass through national borders with your child and what to do if someone with parental responsibility refuses permission for you to take your child overseas.

Who has parental responsibility for a child?

A child’s birth mother automatically has parental responsibility for a child (unless the child has been adopted or taken into care). A child’s father or second other second parent will have parental responsibility is they were married to the mother when the child was born.

A child’s biological father may also have parental responsibility if they were listed on the child’s birth certificate when then the child was born. Someone will also have parental responsibility if they adopted the child, or if they received a parental responsibility order giving them this legal right.

You need the permission of everyone with parental responsibility before taking a child abroad, so if more than two people share parental responsibility you will need an agreement from each of them.

What proof do you need to take your child abroad as a single parent?

In most cases, a letter from the other person or people with parental responsibility is enough to get through the UK border and foreign borders. The letter or letters should include contact details for the person or people giving their permission and details of the trip.

It is also a good idea to have your child’s birth certificate or adoption papers (or official copies of them) and your divorce certificate, especially if you and your child have different surnames.

What to do if your ex-partner refuses permission to take your child abroad

If your former spouse or anyone else with parental responsibility refuses permission for you to take your child abroad, you will need to apply to a court for permission. You will need to provide details of the trip, including when it will take place and how you are travelling, as well as details of anyone else with parental responsibility.

The court will then decide whether to give you permission. If you are granted permission, you will need proof of the court order when travelling overseas. If the court refuses permission and you cannot come to an agreement with the other person or people with parental responsibility then you will not be able to take your child abroad.

Crisp & Co’s child law solicitors in London and the South East are highly experienced in dealing with a wide range of issues relating to children both during and after divorce. If you are planning to take your children abroad, or are concerned that you ex-partner may be planning to remove your children from the UK without permission, we can advise you.

To find out more, speak to one of our child law solicitors now by calling 020 3797 4952 or use the enquiry form below to request a call back.

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