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Travelling outside of Northern Ireland with your child as a divorced parent

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Travelling outside of Northern Ireland with your child as a divorced parent

A Guide for post-divorce parents in Northern Ireland

Divorce can be a challenging time for any family and it may become more complex when children are involved. One of the situations that can arise is when a divorced parent wants to travel outside of Northern Ireland with the child. This guide aims to provide some clarity on this topic.

Understanding parental responsibility

Parental responsibility refers to the legal rights and responsibilities that parents mothers have towards their children. This includes providing a home, protecting and maintaining the child, choosing and providing for the child’s education, agreeing to the child’s medical treatment and looking after the child’s property. Even if you are divorced and do not live with your child, you still have these responsibilities.

Travelling outside of Northern Ireland as a divorced parent

When planning to travel abroad with your child, it’s crucial to understand that you must obtain permission from those with parental responsibility for the child. The only exception is if you have a court order stating that the child shall live with you. In this case, you can take the child abroad for up to 28 days without the other parent’s consent, provided the holiday does not breach the terms of the order regarding time spent with the other parent.

Failure to obtain this permission may lead to criminal charges for child abduction. Therefore, it is essential to seek written consent from the other parent or through solicitors. This consent should ideally include a copy of the passport and full contact details of the consenting parent.

Travelling with a different surname to your child

If you have a different surname to your child, you may be questioned by GB or overseas border control and asked to provide evidence that you are legally travelling with your child. To avoid any issues, it’s advisable to carry the following documentation:

  • Your child’s birth or adoption certificate
  • Proof of name change
  • Written consent from the other parent
  • Booking confirmation from your hotel or accommodation
  • Contact details for the other parent

Applying for a Court Order

If you cannot agree with the other parent about the holiday, you may need to apply for a court order. The type of court order you need depends on what you have been unable to agree on. You can apply for a Specific Issue Order to look at a specific question about how the child is being brought up, or a Prohibited Steps Order to stop the other parent from making a decision about the child’s upbringing or to take the child out of the jurisdiction or to prevent the child from being removed from the jurisdiction.

Planning ahead and keeping it fun

Travelling with children after divorce might sometimes feel complicated, but in the end, having a fun trip with your children that they’ll always remember makes it worth it. Plan ahead and review your parenting agreement for information regarding holidays and travelling with your children. There may be details included in the agreement about when each parent is allotted time to travel or take holidays with their children.

Ensure you have the right documentation for your children in order before your trip. This will include your travel schedule, names of those travelling with you, details on your methods of transport, information about where you’ll be staying and other key details about where your children will be throughout your trip.

Do you require advice on family & matrimonial matters?

If you require advice on divorce or any element of family & matrimonial law, we are here to help. Contact Us for an initial consultation with a solicitor to learn if we are able to assist.


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