Can I stop my children going on holiday with my ex’s new partner?

With the school holidays here and plans being made for families to go abroad or on holiday in the UK, one of the most frequently asked questions is where a parent stands with their children going on holiday with their ex’s new partner. Here Melissa Jones explains the factors at play when the Court decides whether or not a parent can prevent their children from going on holiday with their ex’s new partner.

Perhaps you have not yet met your ex’s new partner and therefore know little about them or maybe the two of you didn’t get off on the best foot.

Before you make any decisions, with family law cases concerning children, it is always best to start from their point of view and think reasonably as to why you might object to the partner tagging along. You might be worried that the new partner has only just come on the scene and is therefore unfamiliar with your children. This is understandable but is unlikely to convince a court that this holiday should not happen if the partner was to attend.

 

But why should I miss out on time with my children and the new partner gets to spend time with them?

This is understandable, but the court is becoming more familiar with “separated families” or “blended families”. The court will appreciate that parents move on after separation and each should be afforded the opportunity to go on holiday as a family. The focus in this scenario is to ensure you arrange your own holiday(s) with the children so you can enjoy quality time with them, one on one.

It may be that in the future, you may also want to go on holiday with the children and your new partner and you would ideally want this to be fully supported by your children’s other parents.

 

Can I get a court order to stop my ex taking the children on holiday with their partner?

If there is an Order in place, usually a Child Arrangements Order (formerly a Residence Order) then a child can be taken abroad for up to a month without needing the written consent of the other parent.

Parental Responsibility

If there is not a court order in place, what first needs to be considered is whether you have parental responsibility. If both parents share parental responsibility, then what is often overlooked is that your partner will need your written consent in order to take the child out of the United Kingdom (Section 13 (2) of the Children Act 1989). Failing to do so could lead to that parent committing an offence of abduction for which they can be fined, imprisoned or both.

If you object to the partner attending the holiday, you are essentially objecting to the other parent taking the children on holiday. As such, you can make an application to the court for a Prohibited Steps Order, to prohibit the other parent taking the children on the holiday.

Likewise, if the other parent believes your consent is being unreasonably withheld, then they can make an application to the court for a Specific Issuer Order, for permission to take the children on holiday in the absence of your consent.

In either scenario, the Judge will take into account the individual circumstances of each family. The Court rarely denies permission to take a child on holiday abroad where there is an existing relationship between the parent and child and the plans are reasonable in all of the circumstances. The court is unlikely to implement a restriction against the new partner attending in the absence of safeguarding concerns as it is a dispute between the two parents. Any Prohibited Steps Order or Specific Issue Order will relate to the parent either being given permission to go abroad with the children or being prohibited from taking the children on holiday, not in relation to the new partner. It would be very rare for a third party to be named in either order.

When the court denied permission it is usually in circumstances where the plans are patently not in the child’s best interests or where the Court deems the child may not be returned to the country.

 

The child’s best interests

If only one parent has parental responsibility, and again there are no Court orders in place, then permission is not necessarily needed to take a child abroad on holiday. That being said, and with your child’s best interests at heart, consultation should always take place with the other parent (if they are in regular contact with the child) in order to reach an agreement that is right for everyone.

 

Open lines of communication

What is important is communication and trying to agree any travel arrangements between you and the other parent in advance. This is not always possible, but if it can be achieved, it will avoid any applications to the court being necessary.

If you are affected by any of the issues raised here, please get in touch today. We are here to help.

 

 

 

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