Getting away on holiday with children is hard enough; following separation, there may be an additional complication and it will need early attention.
My family has had to make use of the 'PMT' mnemonic to ensure passports, currency and
tickets are safely packed prior to leaving home. But now it is 'PMTP'. After parents have separated, many WILL need the permission of the other parent to take their children abroad and will need to have that permission properly documented. They will need this:
- either as a matter of law (a relative rarity); or
- as a matter of practicality.
Parents should check with the relevant Embassy before travelling to see if a formal consent to travel is required or recommended. A formal consent to travel is widely required, for example, in South Africa, Portugal and Russia.
Avoiding child abduction is driving Governments around the world to impose ever stricter controls on the movement of children, even when they are travelling with a parent. This is even more likely to crop up where your surname and the child’s are different … and we still find that men travelling with children abroad or leaving one country to return home are more likely to face challenge or difficulty.
Either way it is increasingly essential, as well as to help your child through the challenges that holiday travel so often throw up, to have your papers in perfect order and thus ease your way through immigration or exit procedures.
First, be tolerant of the system: there is a reason for it. 2016 saw 1,140 child abduction offences and more will have gone under the radar. Each is likely to involve a trauma for that child that will often cause long-term harm and distress. The vigilance of immigration officers is about slowing this torrent.
Secondly, the law in this jurisdiction (England and Wales but not Scotland, the Isle of Man, or the Channel Islands or any part of Ireland etc.) is pretty non-interventionist … for those who like their law with authority:
|An attempt to remove someone under 16 from the United Kingdom (note: not just England and Wales) without appropriate consent…||Usually commits a criminal offence with fairly limited defences (for example, believing that the other parent would have given permission)||Section 1 of the Child Abduction Act 1984|
|If a court order confirms that you can go||Then that solves the problem||Section 13(3) of the Children Act 1989|
|General s 8 provision|
|If you have an order (under s8 of the Children Act 1989) that a child lives with you||Then (subject to any specific provisions) you have permission to travel abroad for up to one month||Section 13(2) of the Children Act 1989|
- there is no automatic permission to take the child abroad; and
- no automatic entitlement of the remaining parent to refuse permission.
The situation adopts the usual norm of the Court, namely
- No intervention (s 1(5) of the Children Act 1989)
- But liberty to apply to the Court for specific arrangements (usually only after attending a meeting with a mediation officer to secure a 'MIAM certificate').