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Agreeing child contact arrangements for holidays and family events.

Agreeing child contact arrangements for holidays and family events.

As we head into Spring, people are planning for the holiday season ahead. Make sure your passport is in date but is that all the paperwork you need? As family lawyers, we come across a variety of situations that have the potential to throw your trips into complete disarray. Here are some examples to consider.

Separated and you would like to take your child abroad? Do you have permission to do so?

Section 2(3) of the Children (Scotland) Act 1995 provides that no person shall be entitled to remove a child habitually resident in Scotland from, or retain such a child outwith the United Kingdom without the consent of a person who is exercising parental responsibilities and parental rights. 

Looking at this from the perspective of what is in the best interests of a child, consent to travel abroad should not usually present a problem. A trip to Disneyland, a chance to visit family living abroad or two weeks in the sun playing om the beach, sounds like an excellent opportunity for any child. Sometimes there may be resistance by a parent and if your trip is to a country impacted by conflict or war or you have just not been prepared to share any information about your trip, then the resistance may be justified. So be prepared to, for example,share your flight details, resort address, give emergency contact details.

If there is still reluctance to give permission then it is possible to ask the Court to intervene. Orders can be sought to dispense with the requirement of consent, delivery of the child’s passport and a specific issue order to take the child on the proposed trip. A sad start to any trip.

Travelling abroad with a child who isn’t yours? Or is yours but you have different surnames?

Do your homework in good time. Check out the UK Government website or the government website of the country you plan to visit. You will get the entry requirements information that you need and specifically information about travelling with a minor. Some countries require sworn statements or affidavits proving you are able to travel with the child, while others need to see a letter signed by the parents confirming permission is granted for the child to travel with you. If you are travelling with a child whose parents are deceased, you may be expected to produce death certificates.

It is not so uncommon to have a different surname from the rest of your travelling party. Be prepared to answer questions about it though. Have evidence available to you such as the child’s birth certificate, your marriage certificate or divorce decree, any formal documentation that can legitimately link you to the child. Child abduction is a real and dangerous criminal threat, so do not be insulted if asked various questions at passport control, just be prepared to demonstrate you are travelling lawfully with the child.

If you don’t have copies of birth or marriage certificates or the divorce decree, extract copies can be ordered but make sure you give yourself enough time to do so. It may be that a photocopy of the extract which has been certified by a solicitor as a true copy is enough for your purposes but don’t take that for granted. Be sure it is.

Getting married abroad? Can you show you are free to do so? 

Wedding planners and tour operators that organise weddings abroad will make you aware that to marry abroad you will need a Certificate of No Impediment. This is a document which confirms that you are free to marry. 

You should nevertheless check out the government website of the country in which you intend to marry. Be sure of the specific legal requirements to marry in that country. This may be an age requirement as well as having a marital status of “single” or “divorced” By following the proper requirements of the country in question and as long as those procedures are in line with what would be allowed here in the UK, then your marriage should stand up to scrutiny. 

Angela Wipat is a Legal Director and Accredited Family Law Specialist with Thorntons Family Law Team.

About the author

Angela Wipat
Angela Wipat

Angela Wipat

Legal Director


For more information, contact Angela Wipat or any member of the Family team on +44 1738 472763.