I am a separated parent, do I need permission to take my child abroad?

November 17th 2023

With many people wanting to escape the bitter cold for some winter sun, a question often asked is ‘do I need to obtain my former partner’s permission to take our child abroad’? 

This can depend on a number of factors, such as whether there are any court Orders in place or if you have parental responsibility. This means that, unfortunately, there is not always a ‘one size fits all’ answer, however, generally, if the other parent (or another person) has parental responsibility for the child, then the answer is yes – you will need their permission. 

To take a child abroad, you must have permission from all parties with parental responsibility, or an Order from the court. Otherwise, if you do not obtain permission, you could face criminal charges for child abduction. You may also be refused entry to your holiday country if you do not have the correct paperwork with you. 

Who has parental responsibility?

Mothers automatically have parental responsibility for a child from birth. Fathers have parental responsibility if they are married to the child’s mother when the child is born, or they are registered on the birth certificate. A father, or a third party in certain circumstances such as a Guardian, is also able to obtain a parental responsibility Order from the Court, or alternatively, parental responsibility can also be acquired by entering into a parental responsibility agreement. 

What evidence do I need to provide when travelling?

If permission is given to you by the other parent or person with parental responsibility, then it is always best to get a letter from them confirming their permission, along with full details of the trip.  

If you have a different surname to your child, it is also a good idea to pack relevant ID documents, such as a Decree Absolute/Final Order or a Marriage Certificate together with evidence of your relationship with the child (for example, a birth certificate or adoption certificate). 

If you have concerns about travelling abroad and the permission you need or are unable to obtain, please get in touch with our family law team.