The short answer is no, provided that both of you have Parental Responsibility.

Parental Responsibility consists of the legal rights and obligations a person has in relation to a child. Mothers have Parental Responsibility automatically. Fathers have Parental Responsibility automatically if they were married to the mother when the child/children were born or if they are registered on the child/children’s birth certificate. Otherwise, fathers can acquire Parental Responsibility with the consent of the mother or, ultimately, apply to the court for an order. In certain circumstances, other people closely connected to the child/children such as step parents may also apply to the court for an order granting them Parental Responsibility.

If you and your ex have Parental Responsibility in relation to your children, this means that in law you both have the equal right to be involved in key decisions about the children’s lives. These decisions include but are not limited to the following:

  • Your child’s name and surname
  • Where your child goes to school
  • Where your child lives in the jurisdiction of England and Wales (as one parent cannot register a child at a school without the consent of everyone who has Parental Responsibility, in practice this means that if your ex wishes to relocate with your child to a different part of England and Wales, they require your consent to do so).
  • Whether, when and where your child travels and/or lives outside of the jurisdiction of England and Wales.

A child cannot be removed from the jurisdiction at all without the consent of everyone who has Parental Responsibility unless there is a court order in force providing that the child “live with” a particular parent.

If such an court order is in force, the parent who the child “lives with” may take the child out of England and Wales for up to 28 days without needing to obtain the consent of everyone who has Parental Responsibility. However, that parent would be expected to provide the other with full details of the holiday, including flight numbers and times, the address at which the child will be staying and suitable contact details.

  • Any medical treatment for your child
  • Your child’s religion.

However, it is important to note that the law’s approach to children matters is child focused rather than parent focused. This means that if a dispute arises, the law considers what would be in the child’s best interests to be paramount, rather than the “rights” of the parents.