Taking Your Child Abroad After Separation: A UK Parent’s Guide

Traveling with your child abroad after separation can be stressful. This guide explains what factors courts consider when a parent seeks permission to take a child on a holiday, especially outside the Hague Convention.

The Child’s Welfare is Paramount

The court’s primary concern is always the child’s well-being. A recent case (T v T 2023 EWFC 243) highlights this principle when a mother wanted to take her 5-year-old son to Pakistan for Christmas.  

Key Considerations for the Court

  1. Risk of Abduction: The court weighs the risk of the child not being returned.
  2. Impact of Abduction: The court considers the emotional and practical consequences if the child isn’t returned.
  3. Safeguards: The court evaluates proposed measures to minimize abduction risk and ensure the child’s return.

The Importance of Expert Evidence

In many cases, the court requires expert evidence to assess the effectiveness of proposed safeguards. These safeguards might include “mirror orders” obtained from the foreign country’s court, ensuring both parents have legal recourse.

The Recent Case: Weighing the Factors

The court considered the child’s established routine with the father and the potential disruption of a long Christmas break away from him. While the mother offered legal advice from a Pakistani lawyer, the court found it lacking details on enforcement timelines and costs. Ultimately, the application was dismissed due to the high risk of the child not being returned and the negative impact on his relationship with his father.

Recommendations for Parents

  • Apply well in advance of the trip.
  • Propose a contact plan for the other parent during the holiday.
  • Consider obtaining a mirror order from the foreign court.

Remember: Every case is unique. If you’re unsure about taking your child abroad after separation, consult a lawyer specializing in family law.