Separated parents and international travel during Covid-19 restrictions

As of August 2022, the Covid-19 pandemic continues to affect international travel, for most, this can mean a last-minute rush to the airport to avoid isolation, but for separated parents the added stress of acquiring consent to travel with their child from the other parent can make holidays even more challenging. Here, Heather Lucy explains how the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic can play a role in organising a holiday between separated parents.


With holiday season in full swing, many parents want to take the opportunity to take their children on holiday. For most families this tends not to be much of an issue, but for families with separated parents there are a few more things to consider. Firstly, if one parent wants to take a child abroad, whether that be permanently or temporarily, the other parent with parental responsibility will need to give consent. However, anyone with the benefit of a Child Arrangements Order, stating that their child is to ‘live with’ them, is legally allowed to remove the child from England and Wales for a period of less than 28 days without the consent of the other parent, even though they have parental responsibility.


What about Covid-19?

As of August 2022, providing you and your child are fully vaccinated, there are 172 countries open to you worldwide, 28 countries that require you to test before you travel, 3 countries that require you to quarantine upon arrival, and only 24 countries fully closed. On the other hand, if either you or your child are unvaccinated or haven’t received all of your vaccinations, only 87 countries are open to you, 71 require you to test before you travel, 19 countries require you to quarantine upon arrival, and 50 countries are fully closed. However, the status of each of these countries so called ‘openness’ can change at any given point.


It is understandable then why any parent may have some reservations around their child travelling abroad with their ex-partner, not least because of the fear that once in the destination country, your ex-partner and child might face a period of self-isolation upon their arrival. Again, changes in the status of ‘openness’ can happen at any time and parents can be caught out with an unexpectedly long stay and issues with accommodation. On top of this, there is the ever-present worry around the risk of the child either contracting Covid-19 or transferring it.

Written consent.

If you do wish to travel abroad with your child, the first step is to seek written consent from the other parent before travelling. If this is something which may prove difficult, try to have an open discussion with the other parent; understand and alleviate any fears that they may have by confirming:

  • Travel dates and times
  • Where you will be staying
  • Explain how you will keep the child safe throughout the holiday
  • Explain the rules around quarantine and testing if you are traveling to a country where this is required

Compromise and flexibility is key, but what happens if you cannot come to an agreement or if your ex-partner gives consent but then changes their mind?

You can make an application to the court for a Specific Issue Order stating that you can remove the child from the country and the court will make the final decision. On the other hand, if you are the partner who is not traveling and you haven’t given consent and are worried that your ex-partner will travel with your child regardless, you can apply to the court for a Prohibited Steps Order to prevent them from traveling. If you are in this situation, you should seek legal advice urgently as this may also be considered child abduction.


Will the court hear this matter in time?

The court is dealing with a significant amount of cases and there is no guarantee that it will be able to deal with an application such as this as quickly as might be necessary. Our advice is to deal with this matter before it becomes an urgent one. There are alternatives to making a court application, such as engaging your solicitor and seeing if the matter can be negotiated or referring to mediation to see if an arrangement can be reached.

If you are affected by any of the issues outlined here, please get in touch with our specialist teams today.


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