Monday, June 25, 2018

What separated parents need to consider when taking their child on holiday

When separated from your child’s other parent, holiday planning can become slightly more complicated due to navigating the other parent’s rights and wishes. If you are taking your child away for the first time, it is important to take into consideration your legal rights to ensure a smooth and stress-free holiday planning process. By recognising exactly what you can and cannot do, and empathising with the other parent’s viewpoints, you can minimise any form of disruption or resistance, and subsequently channel your energy into creating a family holiday full of fun experiences and lasting memories with your child. Below we guide you on the different points to consider, and show you how involved the other parent has to be in your decision-making. Here are five elements of taking your child on holiday that you should take into account for a successful trip away.

Do you need permission from the other parent?

When planning a holiday with your child, the initial question that arises is do you need permission to take them away with you? The short answer is yes. If you share parental responsibility with another person, they must give you permission to take the child abroad, otherwise you could be committing the criminal offence of abduction. Once you have explained your holiday plans to the other party, they can give written permission in the form of a letter. The letter should note details of the trip and their personal contact details. It is important to keep the letter with you on your travels, as you may be asked to show this at any UK or foreign borders. If you have been unable to receive permission from the other party, you may still be able to take your child on your holiday. By applying for and subsequently receiving a court order which states you may take your child away means your holiday plans could still go ahead. When applying for the court order you should give information on where you are going, departure and return dates and also supply the contact details of the other person with parental responsibility.

Passports

When it comes to getting a passport for your child, this can be signed by either parent with parental responsibility. Even if you are separated, you remain having equal rights to apply for the child’s passport. The application can be made by the mother or the father, and subsequently signed by that party, provided they show proof of the child’s nationality in the form of an original birth certificate. There are situations which may mean you cannot apply for a passport, such as if an objection has been lodged at the passport office by the other parent, if a court order has been made which affects the passport office issuing the passport to you, or if the child already has a passport. If you don’t have parental responsibility, you will need to discuss the passport application with the other parent so they can fill in and sign the necessary paperwork for you. A child’s first passport involves a great deal of paperwork and therefore cannot be issued with the premium one-day service, so ensure you leave plenty of time to get the document issued using the standard or one-week fast track postal service.

Planning ahead

If you share the care of your child, your holiday may cross over into time that you wouldn’t normally have responsibility for them. For successful holiday planning it is essential that you communicate with your ex-partner to deduce a suitable time to go. Don’t underestimate the amount of commitments and plans your child may already have, which you will need to conscientiously work around. Whether there is an upcoming hospital appointment, a much anticipated school trip or a family event that your ex-partner may have already planned, holiday scheduling will run much more smoothly if you begin with discussing the easiest and most suitable times to go. You will need to take into account a multitude of appointments, exams and events to ensure the least disruption to your child’s and ex-partners plans and routines. As you will also have certain commitments yourself, ultimately this discussion will be one of understanding the other parent’s viewpoint, prioritising plans and finally compromising on an agreed date that works for everyone involved.

Reassuring the other parent

Taking your child on holiday may be an incredibly exciting and bonding experience for you both, but spare a thought for the other parent who may develop anxieties about being separated from their child by such a distance or long amount of time. This may be the first time they have been separated from your child for an extended period, and it is natural to have worries about the safety and care of them while on a trip away. To be understanding in this situation, it is important to remain open and informative about your holiday plans, and let the other parent know where you are going and what you plan to do. In case of emergencies, it is sensible to give the other parent the contact details for where you will be staying, and for their further piece of mind, it would be reasonable to let the child stay in touch with the other parent throughout the trip. Emotions may run high at the thought of being separated from their child, so it is important to communicate and empathise with their situation in order to lessen any objections.

Delayed flights

If your flight home is delayed, you may then miss the agreed time to hand the child back to the other parent. In the event of this happening, it is imperative to keep the other parent well-informed of how lengthy the delay will be and when you expect to be back home. A delayed flight is a very good reason for not returning a child on time, as the situation is unexpected and out of your control. Depending on the length of the delay, you may be required to stay at the airport for many extra hours, or even end up staying in your holiday country an extra night. Delays can cause huge upset to plans and routines, therefore it is advisable to ask a legal expert about how to make a flight delay compensation claim in the event of certain delays, you could claim for the inconvenience and be reimbursed monetarily.

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