Do I need consent from my ex to take my child on holiday abroad?

04 June 2024 Family Law Clair Cranston

As we approach the summer holidays, a frequently asked question is whether an individual requires the consent of their ex, the father or mother of their child, to travel abroad.

If your ex-spouse or partner is named on the child’s birth certificate they have Parental Responsibilities and Rights and in principle could object to you travelling abroad, although the situation is not that simple.

If your ex-spouse or partner has no contact at all with your child then his/her consent is not required for travel abroad in terms of the Children (Scotland) Act 1995. If however he/she does have contact, even if in your view this is relatively minimal, then yes consent is required. It’s your obligation as the parent travelling outside of the UK to seek that consent from the other person with Parental Responsibilities and Rights.

Consent itself doesn't need to be in the form of a Court order although ideally you would have something in writing - a simple exchange of emails can keep everyone right. However, if there is a refusal to provide that consent, a Court Order (a Specific Issue Order) will be required if you want to travel abroad. Otherwise your ex-partner or spouse could seek to prohibit your travel plans through the Court. Consent to travel abroad shouldn’t be unreasonably withheld however there may be valid concerns regarding your travel plans such as the security situation in the country you are travelling to or a concern that you will not return with your child. Ultimately both parties need to remember that the best interests of the child are paramount and the child’s views can also be taken into consideration if a Court was asked to determine whether travel abroad should be allowed.

At Macnabs we regularly deal with issues surrounding holiday arrangements and seek to find the best outcome for our clients, and of course the child involved. Ruth Croman, Duncan Mackinnon and Clair Cranston are all Accredited by the Law Society of Scotland as Specialist Solicitors in Child Law and all our family team have a wealth of experience in advising clients on these matters.

All of the above relates to the Scottish definition of a child – under the age of 16 and presumes that a child is habitually resident here. You should also check the position in relation to the country that you're travelling to. Other countries may require the consent of both parents upon entry or may consider a child to be an individual under the age of 18.

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