We’re all going on a summer holiday (or not): Can I take my child away if the other parent objects due to Covid-19 (or anything else)?
The arrangements for taking children abroad over the summer holidays (or generally) can often be an area of dispute between separated parents.
As it stands unless you have a “lives with” order (formerly known as a residence order) you cannot take a child out of the jurisdiction without the consent of every other party with parental responsibility (you can find out if you have parental responsibility here or an order of the court.
Where there is a “lives with” order in your favour then you can take a child or children out of the jurisdiction for up to one month provided there are no other court orders preventing this in place.
For parents who have managed to largely agree matters between themselves and without court intervention what this means is that the other parent would often have a right of veto over a holiday abroad even after it has been booked and paid for.
This is perhaps particularly relevant this year when travel restrictions are being lifted but many people feel that it is not sensible to travel due to the ongoing issue of covid-19.
Ultimately the courts will approach any questions about children with a view to determining what is in their best interests and they have the power to make orders about whether or not a child or children should go on a particular holiday. This is dealt with by way of what are known as a specific issue or a prohibited steps order.
The court will be guided by the welfare checklist and will look at the following factors:
- the ascertainable wishes and feelings of the child concerned (considered in light of his age and understanding);
- the child’s physical, emotional and educational needs;
- the likely effect on the child of any change in circumstances;
- the child’s age, sex, background and any characteristics of the child which the court considers relevant;
- any harm that the child has suffered or is at risk of suffering;
- how capable of meeting the child’s needs is each of the child’s parents and any other person in relation to whom the court considers the question relevant;
- the range of powers available to the court in the proceedings in question.
Ordinarily, courts come from the position that it is generally a good thing for a child to be able to enjoy a holiday with its parent but it is not known what approach the courts may take this summer and it could vary from court to court and judge to judge as it is very much a discretionary issue.
On the whole it is far better if parents can look to resolve these issues between themselves but we recognise that that is not always possible.
Consideration may need to be given to using alternative routes to resolve this dispute, for example mediation or arbitration, particularly given that the holiday in question may only be weeks away and the courts are busy. You can see our previous blog in relation to the use of arbitration in children proceedings here.
If you do have any concerns about an upcoming holiday with your child, the proposals of the other parent of your child or in relation to any issues related to children, separation, divorce or financial issues flowing from this then you should take independent specialist legal advice sooner rather than later.
You can contact us by email to firstname.lastname@example.org or WhatsApp on 07725 115219.
Alternatively if you are able to call us we are more than happy to discuss matter with you over the telephone on 01625 544650.