What is the legal position regarding who can take a child abroad?

  • If you already have a Court Order in place setting out the arrangements for the school holidays, ensure these are followed to ensure both parents and the children know where they stand.
  • Whilst the agreement of the other parent is not needed if you go on holiday in England and Wales, it would be sensible to seek their consent in advance in the event you do not have a Court Order or written agreement.
  • You must obtain consent from everyone with parental responsibility for the children before taking them out of England and Wales. However, if there is a Court Order in place setting out that a child is to live with you, you may take the child out of the country for up to one month without needing to obtain consent from anyone else who has parental responsibility. You should take a copy of the Court Order with you to the airport.
  • A parent who is not named as the person with whom the child lives in a Court Order does not have the above right. However, in the absence of agreement with the other parent, they can apply to the court seeking permission to take the child abroad. If the person named in the Court Order as the person with whom the child lives wants to take the child abroad for longer than one month, they would have to apply to the Court for permission in the same way.
  • It can be very expensive and stressful to make a last minute application to the Court about holiday arrangements so try and plan ahead and reach an agreement which is child focused.

 Helpful tips to make the process as stress-free as possible:

  • Try to make arrangements as soon as possible and do not leave it to the last minute. It is advisable to make arrangements as soon as your child’s school release their holiday dates for the next school year. This way you can work through the dates to take into account your work and personal commitments in good time without risking the holiday being cancelled/not agreed at the last minute.
  • Provide details of your travel plans to the other parent well in advance. You should let the other parent know where you are staying, telephone details in case of an emergency, flight times and numbers and maybe an itinerary. Whilst it is important for the children to enjoy their quality time with you, it is worthwhile considering how they may feel about being away from the other parent for a significant period of time and scheduling FaceTime calls to take place during the holiday, if appropriate. This should however be done in a manner which does not disturb the holiday.
  • If you have small children, they may not be used to being away from the other parent for more than a few days and may not be used to a different environment. Choose a suitable holiday destination carefully to meet the needs of your children.
  • When arranging the holiday, make sure that the children are back in good time to prepare for their return to school. You can now be fined if your child is out of school and the absence is unauthorised.
  • Check to see that the children’s passports (and yours) are valid and that you have appropriate insurance. Also check well in advance to ensure you are aware of any Covid-19 travel requirements/restrictions (i.e. vaccination status, testing, face masks).
  • Make sure the children’s passports are given to the other parent at least a week before they travel abroad so there are no last minute worries.
  • If you are the primary carer, encourage the children to feel they will have a great time on holiday with the other parent so they will not feel guilty about leaving you.
  • If you have a new partner, and intend to go on holiday with them, make sure the children are comfortable with this and discuss it with the other parent beforehand.
  • Lastly, enjoy your holiday with the children!

Please contact us if you would like more information about the issues raised in this article or any aspect of divorce and family law.

Request a callback

One of our highly experienced team will be in touch with you shortly.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.