Going on a holiday abroad or to permanently settle abroad is becoming a common event. If an individual desires to take a child abroad, he/she must get consent of everybody with parental responsibility of a child. ‘Parental responsibility’ is defined as fathers and mothers who have legal responsibilities or rights as a parent. Under ‘parental responsibility’ the most imperative roles comprise of:
- Maintenance and protection of a child
- Providing a family (home) for the child
- Approving the child’s medical treatment
- Disciplining the child
- Selecting and providing the child education
- Providing a name to the child and providing consent to the change of name, if required
- Taking responsibility of the child’s property
Who are considered under ‘parental reasonability’
Automatically, a mother, by default, has parental accountability of the child since birth. However, a father generally will have parental rights or responsibility if either of the following apply:
- If the person is married to the mother of the child
- If the name of the person is mentioned on the birth certificate
Additionally, a single father can be eligible to get parental accountability for a child if either of the following criteria is met:
- If a person has jointly registered the birth of a child along with his/her mother (this is applicable starting 1-Dec-03)
- If a person is attaining a ‘parental responsibility’ arrangement with the child’s mother
- If a person is receiving a ‘parental responsibility’ directive from a court
Taking a Child Abroad
An individual, by default, has ‘parental responsibility’ if she is the child’s mother, however, she will still be required to seek consent from any other person who have ‘parental responsibility’ before she considers taking the child abroad. It must be noted that taking a child abroad without the consent of all the relevant people is considered as child abduction. On the contrary, a child can be taken abroad for a maximum period of 28 days, devoid of seeking consent, if it is mentioned in a child arrangement order that the child must stay with the concerned person, except a court order stating the person does not have rights to take the child abroad.
Seeking permission from a person with ‘parental responsibility’
In order to get consent from an individual with ‘parental responsibility’, a letter is generally sufficient to express ones consent and grant permission to take the child abroad. An individual might be asked to produce the letter at a foreign or United Kingdom border, or in case there is a difference of opinion regarding taking the child abroad. The letter ought to take account of the contact details of the person who is giving his/her consent along with particulars about the trip. Additionally, it is helpful to have:
- Proof of association with the child, for example, birth certificate of the child or adoption certificate of the child
- A marriage or divorce certificate, in case an individual is a single parent and the person’s family name is dissimilar from that of the child
A travel permission letter or child travel consent form is a certificate that is used to permit a minor child to travel:
- Abroad via ship, bus, train or plane
- With a group of people
- With a lone parent who is responsible of the child’s custody
- With family members or a friend
The child travel consent form can be used for youth or minor children who are travelling from England, Northern Ireland, Scotland or Wales. Additionally, by having a child travel consent letter notarised, an individual has guarantee about the genuineness of the document or certificate. It is suggested to have the form notarised, particularly if the child is travelling transnationally.
Also, during the travel, if a child falls ill a child travel consent form or travel permission letter will provisionally permit a parent or custodian to take medical pronouncements on the behalf of the child or youth who is travelling with them. A letter doesn’t permit additional people to take medical decisions of the child, hence it is advisable to carry a Child Medical Consent form so to not feel jeopardised if there is a medical emergency.
Seeking consent from a court of law
An individual will be required to file in an application to the court for authorisation to seek permission to take a child abroad; this step is required if an individual has not received consent from the additional people with parental accountability. In order to seek consent from a court, an individual must provide particulars of the trip, such as contact details of an individual with parental accountability in the United Kingdom, date of departure, date of returning, and mode of returning. Also, if a person is taking the child abroad for a longer trip additional information such as kind of education a child will receive during the period must be provided as well. To facilitate the process, an individual can find a solicitor or legal adviser through:
- The Law Society of Northern Ireland
- The Law Society if an individual stays in Wales or England
- The Law Society of Scotland
Here, an individual can search for an appropriate adviser by area of law (such as immigration, family law, or employment), and organisation name
In other words, in case the other parent or guardian doesn’t provide their consent to take the child abroad, an application can be filed with the local family court in the United Kingdom for a SIO (Specific Issue Order) in order to seek permission to take the child abroad. It is imperative to make sure that an individual files an application much before the trip as it might take numerous months for the court to conclude the application.
Furthermore, an individual can apply to court for a PSO (Prohibited Steps Order) in order to stop a parent or somebody with Parental Responsibility to take the child abroad without the proper permission. To do this, an individual must complete the form C100. Here, the court will take the decision considering what will be best for the child.
In order to seek any additionally information, an individual can contact the concerned embassy of the country they are travelling to.
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