Taking Children Abroad

Taking children abroad – what are your rights?


The recent stories in the media regarding Alex Batty have raised some issues around the legalities of taking children abroad.

Most parents share legal rights (called Parental Responsibility) for the children. If there are no court orders in place this means that each parent requires the consent of the other parent to take the child or children abroad regardless of the destination or the length of the trip. Failure to obtain consent can be a criminal offence. 

The entry requirements for children traveling with just one parent vary from country to country so it is always sensible to check the requirements of the country you intend to travel to.

If there is a “lives with” court order in place, the parent (or other family member) with the benefit of the court order can travel outside the UK for up to 28 days without the consent of the other parent or parents. That said, it is still good practice to at least inform the other parent or parents of any intentions to travel abroad and provide emergency contact details.

If a child is taken abroad without consent or in breach of a court order, this amounts to child abduction.  Securing the return of a child in these circumstances can be difficult – much depends on where in the world the child has been taken to. If this happens to you, you can:

  • Report the abduction to the local police if you do not know the child’s location. The police can contact Interpol.
  • Look on the gov.uk website for any country specific information about the country where your child has been taken.
  • Seek legal advice from one of our specialist family lawyers.  You may also need to appoint a lawyer abroad and we can help you with this.
  • Check if your child is in a country to which the 1980 Hague Convention on International Child Abduction applies. The Convention is an agreement between various countries, which can help return an abducted child who is under 16 years old to the country where they usually live.

If you would like to discuss the contents of this article further, please contact Louise Eady, Partner in our Family team on 01277 211 755.

The above is meant to be only advice and is correct as of the time of posting. This article was written by Louise Eady, Partner in the Family team at Pinney Talfourd LLP Solicitors. The contents of this article are for the purposes of general awareness only. They do not purport to constitute legal or professional advice. Specific legal advice should be taken on each individual matter. This article is based on the law as of January 2024.



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