Child arrangements and the big summer holidays

19th July 2023

After a wet and windy start to British Springtime this year many families will be itching to get away to the sunshine with their children this summer. Before hitting the “book now” button and packing your bags there are a few things which separated and blended families must consider to ensure that the holiday gets off to a good start.

  1. Do you need to revisit your contact plan?

If you don’t already have a plan for how school holidays are to be divided up between you, it would be a good time to sit down and have a think about this as the summer holidays approach, and before the new academic year begins. Some flexibility is key. You might need to think about your respective work schedules, your children’s extra-curricular commitments and interests, and any existing contact schedules/holiday plans for any half/stepsiblings of your children.

If the children are old enough, you might both decide that you would like to get their input on plans for the holidays.

If you need any help in preparing a contact/parenting plan, or are having difficulties in reaching an agreement, this is something which we can advise you on.

  1. Have you notified everyone with parental responsibility of your travel plans?

If you do not have a Child Arrangements Order which specifies that a child “lives with” you, permission from every other parent with parental responsibility for a child is required before you are able to remove that child from the jurisdiction of England or Wales.

When approaching the other parent for permission you should give as much information about your travel plans as is possible at that time. For example: proposed travel dates and times, destinations, and accommodation. You should then follow up with the final details once you have booked and ensure that the non-travelling parent has suitable emergency contact details for you during your trip. A quick and easy way to do this is to forward copies of your travel paperwork onto the non-travelling parent.

Parents will generally agree that travel is great for developing young minds, but sometimes there are disagreements which might relate to the destination, trip duration, timing etc. We would be happy to discuss your options with you if this is an obstacle you are facing.

  1. Are you prepared for customs?

If only one parent is travelling with a child (regardless of whether the parents are separated or not), questions may be asked at customs about whether the travelling parent has the requisite permission to leave the jurisdiction with the child. This check is often flagged for parents with a different surname to their child.

In order to avoid any hold-ups to your holiday you should ensure you are prepared before setting off for your trip.

  • Pack your child’s birth certificate along with your passports and tickets – this will evidence that you are a parent of the child. If your name has changed since the child’s birth was registered (e.g., a subsequent remarriage), you should also take proof of your change of name. This could be a change of name deed or your marriage certificate.
  • We would also recommend that you carry a signed form/letter from the non-travelling parent confirming their consent to the holiday, with a copy of their passport annexed. This consent should make reference to the details of the trip that you are making and provide contact details for the non-travelling parent. This is something that you can do yourself, or ask your solicitor to assist you with.

If you need advice on the above or any other Family legal matter please contact our Family Team on 0161 832 3434.

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