Christmas seems like a distant memory and the weather is cold and grey. At this time of year one thing that a lot of people look forward to is their summer holiday and travel agents are reporting their annual surge in bookings.

Recently I travelled to France with my mother and my son. At customs I was asked, for the first time ever, whether my son’s father who was staying at home due to work commitments had consented to me taking our son abroad. As a family lawyer I am well aware of the need for both parents with parental responsibility to consent to their child going abroad and I had asked him to sign a short consent form in advance of the holiday. But what can you do if the other parent does not consent?

Taking a child out of England and Wales without the consent of everyone who holds parental responsibility for that child can amount to an offence of child abduction. Whilst such prosecutions are relatively rare, you should always seek the consent of the other parent before going away on holiday abroad. If they agree to the holiday then you can ask a Solicitor to prepare a short form that can be signed to prove their consent. If they will not consent then that doesn’t necessarily mean that you won’t get any summer sun but the process can be a little more complicated.

If there is a dispute then sometimes Mediation can help resolve it without the need to go to Court. If Court is necessary then generally speaking, trips abroad for a holiday are thought to be in the best interests of a child a provided the proposal is reasonable and the welfare of the child concerned is going to be properly catered for then it is quite likely that the Court will allow the trip.

Parents should however think about this in advance to avoid last minute disappointment!