Christmas abroad?

For most of us Christmas is all about time off work, catching up with family and enjoying the festivities. For children it is all about the presents, Father Christmas, reindeers, having fun and if we are lucky enough to have a white Christmas all about the magic of Christmas.

With many cross border marriages a lot of families are spread across at least two countries making discussions between separated parents over where Christmas ought to be spent increasingly difficult and for the children dampening their whole experience.

Where both parents share parental responsibility for a child any decision to take the child out of the jurisdiction of England and Wales must be agreed. If consent is not obtained and the child is removed then that can be classed as child abduction. Parents often forget that they have a responsibility for a child and it is the child that has rights. Any decision made must be one that is in the child’s best interests.

If an agreement cannot be reached between the parties directly, or with the assistance of a mediator then an application can be made to the court for a specific issue order. This is where the judge is invited to make a decision on the “specific issue”. If you are the parent opposing your child being taken abroad then you need to make an application to the court for a prohibited steps order which is an application inviting the court to make an order preventing the other parent from taking the child abroad.

As well as considering the welfare of the child, having regard to the welfare check list under The Children Act 1989, the court has to weigh up a number of risk factors (such as security) if the country that the child is being taken to is a non-Hague Convention country. The Hague Convention has a number of countries which are signatories to it. It provides a means for the return of a child in the event that they are not returned from the country that that is not their place of habitual residence i.e. their home.

So whether you are the parent wishing to take the child abroad or you are the parent who does not agree to your child being taken abroad it is important to seek legal advice as quickly as possible and in the run up to Christmas for any proposed visits abroad over the Christmas period, immediately, to try and ensure that the court is able to deal with your matter before the Christmas holidays begin.

My team and I are here to help you ensure that you take the right steps to avoid any last minute issues or disappointment over proposed plans not flourishing. For advice and assistance please contact me, Nesheela Nazir, Director and Head of Matrimonial Services at Quality Solicitors Davison’s on 0121 685 1257 or email me at

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