Christmas, Covid 19 & Parenting Arrangements

For separated parents with children this Christmas, there is much more to organise than travel plans and what to pack. As we enter December, new regional tier systems across the UK and quarantine for those travelling abroad mean separated parents have a lot more to think about this Christmas.

Travel overseas

Assuming transport is available, children can travel internationally subject to the following conditions:-

  1. Both parents agree on this travel;
  2. All Covid-19 precautions are taken;
  3. The children’s quarantine and Covid testing will be valid during their time with the travelling parent; and
  4. The parents consider a balance between the advantages of seeing the other parent/extended family and the Covid risks to the children of flying.

Under these unprecedented conditions, plans for travel this year must be proposed with adequate notice and agreed by both parents in principle.

Take the opportunity to ensure you understand the lockdown rules and what healthcare provisions are available in your destination country should anyone become sick and importantly, does your travel insurance cover Covid related expenses?

Regional lockdown tiers

As we enter a new lockdown tier system, it is more important than ever to ensure that you check the restrictions in the local area and the places you are going.

The relevant precautions of having a negative Covid-19 test before and after travel should be considered; wherever possible wearing protective gear for the entire journey (FFP3NR face mask plus face visor and gloves with antibacterial hand wash.)

Non Covid checklist

Of course, there is a checklist for separated parents to consider regardless of the impact of Covid-19 when travelling overseas and these are as follows:-

Do you have the consent of all persons with parental responsibility?

You will need this, unless you have a court order giving you permission (see below).

Parental responsibility means having all the rights, duties, powers, responsibilities and authority which by law a parent of a child has in relation to the child and his property.

Do you have a court order giving you permission to travel?

If you do not have the consent of all persons with parental responsibility then you will need to apply for a court order giving you permission to travel, if you do not already have an order in place.

Is the consent/court order conditional?

It is common for consent or permission to be given on certain conditions and so you should ensure you have as much information available as early as possible regarding your proposed trip.

These can include:

  • Providing the other parent with full details of the planned holiday including who else will be travelling with you
  • Only allowing travel to certain countries e.g. countries which are a party to the Hague Convention, where it is easier to secure the return of a child unlawfully removed/retained
  • Specifying the arrangements for handing over/returning the child’s passport.
  • Video contact with the other parent whilst away, for example on Christmas Day.

Last but not least, don’t forget your passports (and any other necessary documents).

Make sure that you arrange a time to collect your child’s passport from the other parent in advance, if it is not already in your possession well in advance of your travel date.

It is also advisable to travel with a copy of the child’s birth certificate, particularly if your child has a different surname to you, as well as any documentation evidencing any change in your name e.g. your birth certificate, marriage certificate, decree absolute or change of name deed.

Christmas can be a difficult time for separated parents but planning in advance and working together to agree travel plans will help to ensure everyone is happy and children can enjoy their Christmas break shared between with both parents.

For advice on travelling with children when separated or if you are experiencing difficulty reaching an agreement please contact our family department today on 0800 533 5349.

Mogers Drewett

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