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It’s that time of the year – schools are out for the summer and children up and down the country are looking forward to their summer holiday.  For children of separated parents this can mean extended visits or vacations either abroad or in the UK. There are a number of factors separated parents should consider before taking their children away.

If a separated parent is taking a child under the age of 16 years away, an agreement must be reached (preferably in writing) with the child’s other parent before travel plans are finalised and travel documents handed over. The best way to achieve this is to provide the non-traveling parent with a complete itinerary of the holiday arrangements such as times and dates of travel, where the child will be staying, who else will be travelling with them and if appropriate, a telephone number so the parent at home can contact the child whilst they are on holiday. If an agreement to take a child on holiday cannot be reached, an application to the court for a Specific Issues Order permitting travel is needed.

If a parent needs to prevent travel from taking place, then they can apply to the court for a Prohibited Steps Order.  If a parent has taken a child from the parent they live with, without their permission, this can amount to child abduction and the Police should be notified straightaway. A ‘Port Alert’ can then be put in place so boarder guards can be on alert.

If a child is kept overseas for a period longer than was agreed or was taken abroad without permission, then the parent at home can apply to the court for the child to be returned under the Hague Abduction Convention. If the destination country is signed up to the Hague Convention and if the child is not returned when they should be then the courts in that country can uphold any orders made by the English courts for the return of the child.

Irrespective of why a child has been wrongfully removed from the parent they usually live with it is important to act quickly to have the child returned to ensure that the parent who has wrongfully removed the child cannot establish a ‘settled purpose with a settled intention’ as this can happen extremely quickly.

The contents of this article are intended for general information purposes only and shall not be deemed to be, or constitute legal advice. We cannot accept responsibility for any loss as a result of acts or omissions taken in respect of this article.