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Do I Need Permission To Take My Child On Holiday Abroad?

Can I take my child abroad on holiday?

Whether you need permission to take your child on holiday abroad depends on who has Parental Responsibility (see below) and whether there is any Child Arrangements Order in place (see below).

Parental Responsibility

If a parent has Parental Responsibility this means they have all the rights, duties, powers, responsibility and authority that, by law, a parent has in relation to their child.  This includes having a say about discipline, education and medical treatment and having the right to provide a home and spend time with the child.  It does not include the right to interfere with the day-to-day care. Mother’s automatically have Parental Responsibility from when a child is born. Usually, a father has Parental Responsibility if they are named on the child’s Birth Certificate or if they are married to the child’s mother.

Child Arrangements Order

A Child Arrangements Order is an Order stating (1) whom a child will live with and (2) whom a child will spend time with, how often, whether there should be overnight and longer stays, whether it should be supervised or supported in some way and whether it should be limited to indirect contact (e.g. post or telephone).

Both parents have Parental Responsibility and there is no Child Arrangements Order specifying where child is to live

Neither parent can take the child outside the UK without the written consent of the other. If consent is refused an application can be made to the Court for a Specific Issue Order (see below).

Mother has Parental Responsibility and Father does not and there is no Child Arrangements Order specifying where the child is to live

A mother does not need permission from the father to take the child abroad on holiday.  It is good practice however to try to agree arrangements.  The father could apply for Parental Responsibility and refuse consent. The father could also apply for a Prohibited Steps Order seeking an Order stopping the mother from taking the child abroad (see below).

Where one person has a Child Arrangements Order specifying a child should live with them

A person with a Child Arrangements Order specifying a child should live with them can take a child abroad for up to one month without the written consent of the other parent.  It is good practice however to try to agree arrangements.

Grandparents or other family members

If grandparents or other family members want to take a child abroad, permission will be needed from both parents with Parental Responsibility and not just from one parent.

Consequences of taking a child abroad on holiday without consent or without a Court Order

If a person takes a child abroad on holiday without the consent of those with Parental Responsibility or a Court Order, then this is child abduction which is a serious criminal offence.

Specific Issue Orders and Prohibited Steps Orders

If the other parent refuses to give consent for you to take the child on holiday abroad you can apply to the Court for a Specific Issue Order. In the application you would be asking the Court to grant you permission to take the child on holiday abroad. You would need to make the application to the Court well before the planned holiday otherwise your application will not be heard on time.

If the other parent is planning on taking the child abroad and you refuse your consent but the parent still plans on continuing with the holiday then you can apply to the Court for a Prohibited Steps Order. In the application you would be asking the Court to make an Order preventing the other party from taking the child on holiday abroad. If the holiday is imminent then you would need to ask the Court to deal with the application urgently.

Providing information about a holiday abroad

It is reasonable for a parent to be given full details of the holiday abroad if they request that in case of emergency. It would usually be reasonable for the following details to be given:

  1. The country the child is going to.
  2. Details of accommodation arrangements.
  3. A contact telephone number and address of which the child will be staying at.
  4. The inward and outward flight details (with documentary evidence).
  5. Details of who will be accompanying the child on holiday.

Get in touch

If you wish to speak to any of the family law team about subjects such as parental responsibility, taking children abroad, or anything else relating to family matters, then please get in touch. You can call us on 01323 727321 to arrange an appointment or please fill in the form below and someone will get in touch.

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Please note the above is for information purposes only and is intended to be a short summary.  It should not be treated as a comprehensive guide and should not be acted on without qualified legal advice.