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5 tips for travelling abroad with children after divorce

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Travelling abroad with children after divorce poses a whole range of legal issues for a parent – and as the best family lawyers are only too aware, getting it wrong can lead to serious legal consequences, including allegations of child abduction or even child trafficking. Taking early advice from top family solicitors in London can help avoid hold ups and more serious legal repercussions.

Key issues if you’re travelling abroad with children after divorce

For couples travelling abroad with children, the biggest worry will be whether they have enough to entertain their children on the plane and whether they will be able to find food their children will eat at their destination. For the lone parent travelling abroad with children after divorce, there are a whole host of issues to consider from a legal perspective. Anyone in this position, contemplating travel abroad with their children should consider talking to the best Family Solicitors they can find before travelling to make sure everything is covered off.

The key issues if you’re travelling abroad with children after divorce involve ensuring that the parent travelling has the appropriate consents to travel from anyone else with parental responsibility for the child or children. There may also be requirements that apply in the country that is being visited which mean that even if the parent can leave the UK, they may not be able to enter the country of destination unless certain requirements are fulfilled. Even if both partners are UK nationals, it’s worth taking advice from a lawyer with experience in divorce and Immigration to make sure you get the right advice about what’s required.

Child abduction and Child trafficking

It may seem harsh or shocking to use the phrase ‘child abduction’ to describe a parent taking his or her child out of the UK’s jurisdiction. The reality is that if a parent is travelling without the permission of the others who have parental responsibility for the child, it is child abduction. While the motivation behind a child abduction may simply be for the parent to spend time with their child, the motivations behind child trafficking are far more sinister. Many good Family Solicitors are becoming increasingly aware of child trafficking cases – when a child or children are moved between countries for sexual exploitation, benefit fraud purposes, domestic servitude, forced labour, or criminal activity such as pickpocketing or drug transportation. Both child abduction and child trafficking have become priorities for the UK Border Force in recent years, and officers at ports and airports will be on the lookout for possible problems.

How can problems arise when travelling abroad with children

In the UK, a lone parent travelling with a child or children may alert the UK Border Force to a potential issue, particularly if the child or children have a different surname to the parent. Given that it seems a real possibility that the UK Border Force will take an interest in adults travelling alone with children, here are 5 top tips to keep things straightforward.

5 tips for travelling abroad with children after divorce

1. Make sure you have the consent of others with parental responsibility

Unless you have a ‘Lives With’ court order in your favour, in which case you can take your child or children out of the jurisdiction for up to 28 days without consent, or a Specific Issue Order, you need to have the consent of others with parental responsibility for the children to leave England and Wales. If that person or people will not give permission, you will need to apply for a court order. It’s wise to travel with a copy of the written permission, or the court order, in case you are challenged by the UK Border Force. Your family and Immigration lawyers will be able to advise you on anything else you may need.

2. Check any requirements of the airline

The airline you are planning to travel with may have its own requirements for sole parents travelling with children after divorce. It’s worth asking the question explicitly, before you travel, to avoid complications at the airport.

3. Check with your own embassy

If you or your children are not UK nationals, check any requirements that apply to you. These may be different to the requirements that relate to UK nationals.

4. Check the requirements of the destination country

The country you are travelling to – and any countries you will be travelling through – may have their own conditions or requirements for parents travelling alone with children. In some cases, there may be different rules relating to children as compared with the UK, and some, for example South Africa, can be far stricter than the UK. You may find that you can leave the UK, but you are unable to enter the destination country – so checking beforehand is always advisable.

5. Bring supporting documentation with you

Particularly important if your children have a different surname, take your children’s birth certificates with you, plus, if you were married to your partner, a copy of your marriage certificate and decree absolute.

OTS Solicitors are highly experienced Immigration and family lawyers, recommended in the Legal 500 for Immigration advice. For any parent contemplating travelling alone with their children after divorce, we can advise on the documentation required to ensure your journey goes smoothly and help and support you with any court applications required. T book an appointment to discuss your situation in confidence, call 0203 959 9123.

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