With Christmas fast approaching, and Covid cases rising, separated parents who have agreed to their children going abroad with the other parent, may now be having second thoughts about this. This blog will therefore address the options available to such parents.
Is there an existing Child Arrangements Order in place?
The first thing for separated parents to consider, is whether there is an existing Child Arrangements Order in place. If there is, and the parent wishing to take the children abroad has the benefit of something called a “lives with order”, then that parent does not need the consent of anyone else with Parental Responsibility, to take the children outside of the UK, unless to do so would disturb any Court ordered contact.
Where the parent wishing to take the children abroad does have the benefit of a lives with order, it will be up to the other parent to make an application for something called a “Prohibited Steps Order”, seeking for the Court to prohibit the children from leaving the UK.
What if there is no Child Arrangements Order in place, or you do not have the benefit of a lives with order
Where there is no Child Arrangement Order in place, or the parent wishing to take children abroad does not have the benefit of a lives with order, then unless that parent has the consent of everyone else with Parental Responsibility for the children, they will be unable to take the children outside of the UK. In these circumstances, the parent wishing to take the children abroad, will need to apply for something called a “Specific Issue Order”, seeking for the Court to grant them with permission to take the children outside of the UK.
Are there any alternatives to filing an application at Court?
Filing an application at Court should be treated as a last port of call, and mediation should be attempted in the first instance, or negotiations should be attempted through solicitors. However, given the close proximity of Christmas, some separated parents make take the view that filing an application at Court, is now the only realistic option, given the urgency of the situation. Separated parents do, however, need to be aware that, given how busy the Courts are at the moment, there is no guarantee of an application being dealt with this side of Christmas.
If you are a separated parent and find yourself in a position where you are no longer agreeable to your children going abroad this Christmas, then you should obtain advice from a specialist family lawyer as soon as possible. In light of the pandemic, the Courts are dealing with these issues on a case-by-case basis, and there is no guarantee that any application will be successful. The Court will need to consider what is the children’s best interests before making any order, as well as considering the current Covid restrictions both in the UK and the other country.
Contact us to speak with our team of family law specialists.
T: 029 2034 2233
Author: Sam John