Holidays Abroad for Separated Parents
For separated parents based in the UK planning trips ahead of the Thanksgiving and December holiday seasons, it is important to be aware of the laws governing travel with children abroad
By Josh McEvoy
Whether you are planning a trip home to the USA over the holidays; or an adventure abroad to other exotic or wintery locations, there are a number of important factors to be considered by any separated parent. Who will the children spend the holidays with? How long will the children spend with each parent? Will that time involve any travel abroad? What happens if plans cannot be agreed?
Failing to plan is planning to fail
The key to avoiding arguments is good communication and planning ahead. You should try to agree holiday schedules in advance and give sufficient notice to other parents about any intended trips. The further ahead you plan the more time you will have to try and resolve any issues or disagreements. The holidays usually represent a break from the usual pattern or routine and will therefore require careful thought and consideration.
The ability to compromise is a key skill and you should be prepared to be flexible and co-operate. Remember if you are willing to accommodate the plans of the other parent they will be more likely to accommodate your future plans. You should try to make all decisions with the best interests of the children in mind. If parents are unable to work together then ultimately it is the children that will suffer as they will miss out on experiences.
If you intend to travel outside of England and Wales, you must obtain the permission of all persons with parental responsibility for each child. If you travel without such permission, you are potentially committing a child abduction which is a criminal offence.
It is good practice to communicate in good time to the other parent full details of your travel plans. This information should be provided at the time of seeking consent to the proposed trip. The more information you provide the greater the likelihood of obtaining consent to your proposed trip and avoiding disappointment. You should also consider in advance whether any documents required to travel, such as passports, will need to be exchanged. It may also be prudent to give thought to how the children can keep in touch with the other parent during the holidays and you should encourage them to do so.
If you cannot agree holiday arrangements then it is possible to seek the permission of the Court to take the children abroad for a temporary period.
Applications to Court
If you have attempted all other avenues and still cannot reach an agreement on your holiday plans, then you can make an application to the Family Court to determine the issues. The process of making an application can be both financially and emotionally draining and so should only be pursued as a last resort. A good family solicitor will first explore your options to reach an agreement before advising you to issue an application.
If you are unsure about how to approach seeking an agreement with a former partner in relation to holidays, or whether or not you require permission to take your child abroad, you should seek the assistance of a specialist family lawyer who will be able to advise and assist you.
Josh McEvoy advises clients on cases involving all aspects of family law with a particular focus on the financial consequences of divorce and separation and private law disputes involving children. Moving to the UK raises questions about your tax status but what about the effectiveness of your existing planning arrangements, such as your Will? With delicate family relationships discussed above, have you reviewed your Will? For example, have you considered guardians for your children and how to provide for them in relation to any assets you have based in the UK? What happens if you fall ill whilst you are living in the UK? In the UK, if you do not have Lasting Powers of Attorney in place, and you lose capacity whilst you are resident here, this can mean that you are left unprotected and your loved ones will have to go to the Court of Protection, to arrange for a ‘deputy’ to be appointed to deal with your UK assets. This can be a stressful, costly exercise and may also take some time. Until the person passes away the deputy will also be accountable to the Court for annual accounts, putting in place annual insurance, annual court supervision fees and additional formal administrative burdens. At Mundays we are able to ensure that whilst you are UK resident, even for a short period, that you have the most effective documentation in place. Whether you are already living in the UK or if you are about to move, it is preferable to have any existing documentation reviewed, to ensure that you do not fall into any nasty traps with tax consequences that you did not realise, either in the UK or in the US. mundays.co.uk