Holidays are a great opportunity to spend quality time with your children, and many separated or divorced parents want to take their child abroad during the school holidays. Follow these steps to make sure you are not breaking the law when you take your child out of the country.
1. Check if you need permission to take your child on holiday
When you take a child abroad, the general rule is that you must have written permission from everyone who has parental responsibility for that child.
In England & Wales, if you are a mother, you automatically have parental responsibility for your child from birth. A father usually has parental responsibility if he was married to the child’s mother at the time of birth or is listed on the birth certificate (as of 1st December 2003).
Even if you both have parental responsibility and there are no Court Orders in place, you must get written consent from the other parent in order to take your child abroad.
If you have a Child Arrangements Order stating the child is to live with you, you are entitled to take them out of the jurisdiction of England and Wales for up to 28 days, without written consent from the other parent. However, you must give the other parent reasonable notice of your holiday plans. Talk to us about Child Arrangement Orders.
If you are worried that the mother or father of your child has a live with Order which may disrupt the contact that has been Court ordered between you and the children, talk to us about your rights.
2. Plan in advance and give reasonable notice of your holiday plans
Whether or not you need permission to take the child abroad, we would advise that you plan your trip in advance to minimise any potential conflicts with the other parent and keep the situation as amicable as possible.
If you do require permission, you will need a letter signed by everyone who has parental responsibility for the child. This is most often a requirement of border control. If the child has a different surname to you, it is good practice to take a copy of their birth certificate and, if relevant, a copy of your marriage certificate or Decree Absolute to minimise any potential problems when travelling.
It’s advisable to provide everyone who has parental responsibility with details of flights, hotel(s), the duration of the holiday, and if necessary create arrangements for the child to have a telephone call with the other party during the trip.
If you do need permission, try to obtain written consent before you book the holiday. If your ex-partner refuses, you could end up spending money on a holiday that you then can’t take your child(ren) on.
3. Speak to a solicitor if your ex-partner refuses
You might believe it is in the child’s best interests to go on the holiday – for example, you think the holiday would be a good experience for the child, or the trip will be an opportunity to visit extended family.
If your ex-partner refuses to give consent but you can demonstrate that the holiday is in the child’s best interests, you will need to make an application to Court for a Specific Issue Order. We can help with this.
What to do if you have concerns about your ex-partner taking your child abroad
If you have concerns about your ex-partner taking your child abroad, you can refuse permission if:
- You have parental responsibility and they do not, or
- You both have parental responsibility, but your ex-partner does not have a Child Arrangements Order stating that the child(ren) lives with them
If you are concerned and they do have a ‘live with Order’, you will need to apply to Court for a Prohibitive Steps Order to prevent your ex-partner from taking the child on holiday. Talk to us about Prohibitive Steps Orders.
If you refuse permission, your ex-partner may make an application to Court to obtain an Order to take the child on holiday. It is important that you have a trusted family solicitor to attend the hearing with you to put your concerns across and represent you. It will be at the Court’s discretion as to whether an Order is made.
If you refuse permission, no Court Order is made, but the other parent takes the child abroad anyway, this is child abduction. If you believe your child has been abducted, contact us immediately so that we can advise you on your next steps.
Are you unhappy with current arrangements for your child? Book your initial Family Arrangements Review with us today.
At your Family Arrangements Review session, we will discuss:
✅ Your current position and the issues you are facing
✅ How we can help you get the arrangements best for everyone and our fees