It is understandable that a parent might be anxious about giving their consent to their child travelling abroad, particularly if there has been an acrimonious separation. The short answer to whether you should consent is: it depends on where your child is travelling to.
Countries who are signatories to the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction have an agreed mechanism for the return of a child who has wrongfully been removed or retained abroad.
Broadly speaking, if you are exercising your parental rights and you have not consented to your child being retained abroad, then unless it is established that the child would be at grave risk or placed in an intolerable situation, an order will be made for their return home. The child’s view will also be considered.
Travel to countries not part of the Hague Convention
If you are thinking about giving consent for your child to travel to a country such as the UAE or Pakistan which is not a signatory to the Convention, then the situation is far more complex. If your child is wrongfully retained abroad, it is important to act quickly and before it can be argued that the child’s place of habitual residence has changed.
Before you allow your child to travel to a country that is not a signatory to the Hague Convention, you might consider entering into an agreement which declares that the child is habitually resident in Scotland. The agreement should also state that your consent for your child to travel is for a defined period only and for the purpose of a holiday. A date of return should be agreed upon. Such an agreement may not be recognised in the foreign country, but it could be produced quickly as evidence of the scope of your consent.
If your child is retained in a foreign country that is not a signatory to the Hague Convention, it is important to act quickly and seek legal advice.
It is unlawful to remove a child from the United Kingdom without consent. If a person with parental rights and responsibilities refuses to consent to their child travelling abroad, then the remedy for the other parent is to ask the court to make a specific issue order to allow the child to travel.
The content of this page is for information only. It is not intended to be construed as legal advice and should not be treated as a substitute for specific advice. Gibson Kerr Ltd accepts no responsibility for the content of any third party website to which this webpage refers. Gibson Kerr Ltd is regulated by the Law Society of Scotland