Holiday abroad with children as separated parent - Lester Aldridge

Holidays abroad with your children

If you're a separated parent there are rules to navigate; let Lester Aldridge solicitors help you!

Ed note: As borders re-open and many of us are desperate to travel again, there are so many boxes to tick like covid tests and vaccination passports that it's easy to overlook the "normal" nitty gritty like travel insurance. If you're also a separated parent you need also to be mindful of the rules for taking your children abroad. If you're concerned, feel free to take advantage of a free initial consultation with one of the expert Lester Aldridge solicitors - see below for contact details.

Thinking of booking a holiday abroad with your children? How to navigate the rules on taking children abroad as a separated parent.

mother and child on beachThe grey, cold weather at this time of year can leave many of us thinking about booking a holiday abroad, particularly now that holidays abroad are becoming more available after a previous period of covid holiday restrictions. However, if you are a separated parent, you may want to double-check whether you require the other parent’s consent before booking in a summer holiday and whisking your children out of the country.

In order to understand whether you require the consent of the other parent, you will first need to establish whether you have parental responsibility for your children. You will also need to check whether the other parent or any other carers have parental responsibility of your children as well.

Parental responsibility – what is it and who has it?

Parental responsibility means the legal rights and responsibilities which by law a parent or carer has in relation to the child. A person who has parental responsibility for a child has the right to make important decisions about the child’s care and upbringing, although having parental responsibility does not mean you have a legal right to see the child or take the child on holiday.

Some people automatically have parental responsibility of a child, such as:

  • All birth mothers;
  • Fathers married to the mother at the time the child was born.
  • Fathers who are not married to the mother, but are registered on the child’s birth certificate (on or after 1 December 2003).
  • Civil partners and married partners of mothers registered as the child’s legal parent on the birth certificate.

In all other circumstances, a father will not automatically have parental responsibility and he can obtain it by one of several methods, such as:

  • Parental Responsibility Agreements – it is possible to obtain parental responsibility by signing an agreement with all others who have parental responsibility and filing it with the court.
  • Parental Responsibility Orders – if no agreement can be reached then the father will need to make an application to the court.
  • Secure a child arrangements order which names the father as the person that the children live with. The parental responsibility will only continue as long as that order is in place.

In some families, people other than the child’s parents may have parental responsibility of the child such as stepparents, grandparents, uncles and aunts.

Once you have established whether you and anyone else has parental responsibility of children, the next step is to check whether there is a court order in place regarding the children.

These include orders such as a child arrangements order (which details who the children live with and have contact with) or a specific issues order (which may determine a specific issue such as whether the children may go abroad with a parent or not).

Can I take my children on holiday abroad if there is no child arrangements order in force?

If there is no order in force then where you both, as parents, have parental responsibility, neither of you may take your child from the jurisdiction of the UK without agreement from the other parent, and from anyone else with parental responsibility.

Where only one of you wishes to take your child out of the country, for example on holiday, that person should obtain permission from the other parent in writing before the holiday. You may wish to obtain the other parent’s consent before the holiday is booked or a deposit is paid.

If the other parent unreasonably withholds written permission, then you can make a court application for a specific issue order. To increase the chances of court permission being granted, you should try to deal with any likely disagreement at an early stage and try to address any practical concerns the other parent may have about the trip. We would recommend that any such application is made in good time ahead of the planned trip.

Can I take my children on holiday abroad if there is a child arrangements order in force?

Where there is a child arrangements order in place, and you are named on the order as the person who the child lives with, then you may take your child abroad for less than one month without needing the other parent's consent. However, it is best practice as co-parents to still try to obtain the consent of the other parent to avoid the risk of them applying to court for a prohibited steps order to try to stop the children from leaving the country. Additionally, any trips planned for longer than one month will require the consent of the other parent or anyone else with parental responsibility of the child.

If you are not named in the child arrangements order as the person whom your child lives with, then you will require the consent of anyone with parental responsibility for your child, in order to take your child out of the UK for any period of time. If you take your child out of the country without the other parent’s consent and without the court’s permission then you may be breaching your child arrangements order and committing child abduction.

If the other parent is the one named on the order, as the person whom your child lives with, and you wish to stop them taking your child abroad then you can make an application to the court to stop your child from leaving, for example, where there is a risk your child will not be returned at the end of the holiday.

The child's welfare is paramount

Emma Ritchie solicitor with Lester AldridgeThe court’s paramount consideration when considering an application in relation to a child (whether it’s an application to take your child abroad or whether to prevent your child from leaving the country) will be the child’s welfare and what is in the child’s best interests.

If you have any questions about taking your children abroad, or about the other parent’s plans to do so, and would like to discuss your matter with someone in our team of family solicitors then please feel free to contact us on 01202 786161 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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