Can I take my children on holiday?

A child arrangements order outlines where a child will live and who they will spend time with. You can usually take a child abroad for up to 28 days providing the order states that you have responsibility for the child, unless there is a court order against this. 

In an ideal world, separated parents would agree well in advance on any holiday arrangements for their child. This can be stressful and difficult to agree on, especially with six weeks in the summer, along with half terms, Easter and the Christmas break. 

However, if the parents cannot agree on issues such as when and where they can take their child on holiday, a child arrangement order application should be made to the courts. 

These orders are made in the best interests of the child and are decided on the individual family circumstances and are governed under Section 8 of the Children Act 1989. If the order specifies a child should live with one parent, as mentioned, that parent can take the child abroad for 28 days without the consent of the other parent. 

However, if the parent is not named in the order, they must obtain written agreement directly from the specified parent, if they are on amicable terms, or from a family solicitor

What happens when both parents have parental responsibility?

If both parents have a legal responsibility for the child, neither can take the child abroad without written consent. The advantage of obtaining this permission is that no one can be accused of child abduction which is a criminal offence under the Child Abduction Act 1984. 

You may also be asked to produce the written consent at the UK or foreign border. If one parent is not willing to give their consent to allow the child to travel on holiday because they think that the child might come to harm or danger, the parent hoping to take the child on holiday would have to apply to the family court for permission to do so. 

If it is believed that a child is being taken abroad without consent, an application for a prohibited steps order can be made which will tell a parent or someone with parental responsibility what they cannot do.

What constitutes being abroad?

Many parents don’t realise that if you live in England or Wales but travel to Scotland, Northern Ireland, the Channel Islands or the Isle of Man, you are technically travelling abroad because these places do not share the same legal system as England and Wales. 

In this scenario, you would be required again to have written permission from the courts or the parent who has parental responsibility.  If a child has a different surname to the parent, it is advisable to also take evidence such as a birth certificate showing your relationship with the child. The courts are likely to grant permission to take your child abroad if they consider it to be for a reasonable length of time and to a reasonable destination. 

However, concerns may arise if the court considers a child is being taken to a country that isn’t safe or is not a signatory to the Hague Convention on Child Abduction, because under these circumstances it could be difficult to secure the return of a child if that became necessary.

How Can GloverPriest Help?

At GloverPriest, we provide friendly and transparent family law advice. If you would like further help on child arrangements, please don’t hesitate to speak to one of our expert family lawyers today. Complete our enquiry form.


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