Can I Take My Child On Holiday Without The Mother’s Permission?

When parents who are resident on the Isle of Man separate, taking a child off-Island for a holiday can be complicated. Consent of the ex-partner is often needed and even where it is not essential, it can be advisable to obtain this anyway, depending on the destination.

Similar rules apply to parents living in England and Wales who wish to take their child to the Isle of Man, which is classed as removal of that child from English and Welsh jurisdiction.

When Both Parents Have Parental Responsibility

Following divorce or separation, it is common for both parents to have parental responsibility, even when they no longer live together. Mothers automatically have parental responsibility, however fathers sometimes do not. A legal adviser will be able to tell you whether you have parental responsibility and, if you do not, will be able to help you obtain this.

It is a criminal offence under the Child Custody Act 1987 for anyone to take a child off of the Isle of Man without the consent of anyone who holds parental responsibility unless they have a custody or residence order. This means that if a father wants to take his child on holiday, either abroad or in the UK, he will often need the mother to give her consent.

When Only One Parent Has Parental Responsibility

Where a father does not have parental responsibility for a child, a mother could, in theory, take that child off-Island or abroad for up to 28 days without his consent, however it is always a good idea to talk things over with an ex and try and ensure they are agreeable to the arrangements.

If a father is not happy with the child being taken off-Island, there is the option for him to apply to the court for an order preventing it.

Written Consent To Take A Child On Holiday

If you are intending to take a child abroad or off-Island and you have the permission of the other parent, this should be put in writing in the form of a letter of consent.

The letter should include names of both the child and the consenting parent, contact details for this parent, name and passport information of the accompanying parent, dates of travel and information about the destination. The letter should be signed by the parent who is giving their consent in front of a witness, ideally a solicitor.

A sample letter is available here.

When A Parent Does Not Consent To A Child Going Abroad Or Off-Island

If a parent has concerns about a proposed trip and does not wish a child to go, then it is possible to ask the court to grant parental responsibility (if this is not already in place) and make a Prohibited Steps Order preventing the travel.

The court will usually only grant this if it believes that it is not in the child’s best interests to go, for example, if the destination country is considered unsafe, if there is a legitimate fear that the child will not be returned or if there is an objection to someone else who will be making the trip with the child.

Taking Your Child Abroad When Their Surname Is Different From Yours

Even if you have the legal right to take your child away, you should take as much documentation as you can proving this, especially if your surname is different to theirs. This will include any letter of consent and a birth certificate showing your relationship to the child. Different countries may have additional requirements, so check before you travel.

In Summary

Giving permission for your child to go away from you for a holiday can be emotive. But the courts will always look at what is in the child’s best interests and it is usually the case that a trip with a parent is a good opportunity for them to spend time together and have new experiences. Try and keep relations with your ex as civil as possible and discuss any concerns you may have to try and reach an amicable agreement.

If you need legal advice, at Quinn Legal we are always happy to speak to you and talk through your options.

Our family team have extensive experience of handling child contact matters and know the legal processes inside and out.

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