Can I take my children on holiday?


With children now breaking up from school for their summer holidays, many families are looking forward to spending extended periods of time with their children, which may, for some, include holidays abroad, especially now that restrictions on travel are easing significantly. However, for separated parents this can often be a tricky issue to navigate with your ex-partner, even if there is a Court Order in place.

Bendles’ Family Law Specialist, Hannah Smith, has outlined the most common scenarios faced and the legislation which needs to be followed:

I have a Child Arrangements Order for my Child to live with me

  • If you are named as a person with whom a Child lives you may remove a child, for a period of less than 1 month, under specific sections of the Children Act.
  • Given that summer holidays abroad are usually for a period of 1-2 weeks as long as you are named as the person with who the child lives, and your holiday does not interfere with time that the other parent would spend with the Child you should not run into any issues.

I have a Child Arrangements Order to spend time with my Child

  • Unfortunately, unless it is dealt with within the Child Arrangement Order that you already hold, then you need to either have the written consent of the other parent or a Court Order to take a Child abroad.
  • It is quite common for details of holidays to be worded in Child Arrangement Orders as UK or abroad to cover this element.
  • Written consent would be best given via a letter signed by the other parent. It is always best to keep a printout copy of this consent with the Child’s passport.
  • As with those parents who have a Child Arrangement Order to live with, it is always best to ensure that your holiday falls within the time that you spend with your Child during the summer holidays
  • If your Child Arrangement Order is silent on the issue of holidays abroad, and the other parent is not prepared to give their consent to the same, you would need to look at making an application to Court for a specific issue order. You must ensure that you make a referral to mediation in the first instance which may assist to resolve your dispute without the need for Court interference.

I do not have a Child Arrangements Order in respect of my Child

  • Often, separated parents do not require the Court to make an order in respect of contact arrangements and can co-parent effectively.
  • Where this is the case the parent seeking to go on holiday will need the written permission of everyone with parental responsibility, much like the parents who have a Child Arrangement Order to spend time with

Tips for all separated parents travelling abroad

  • Make sure you have a copy of any Child Arrangements Order with you. If you do not have a Child Arrangements Order, or if you have a Child Arrangements Order to spend time with, make sure you have a copy of the written permission of the other parent
  • If you have a different name to your child, it is best to take a copy of their birth certificate, and any documentation showing your change of name, such as a Decree Absolute or your new marriage certificate if you have remarried
  • Always ensure that you provide the other parent with the key details of your holiday as soon as possible, such as but not limited to; destination, travel time, departure and arrival airport, duration of holiday
  • It is generally a good idea for parents to agree who will look after important documents such as passports and birth certificates, and to ensure whoever is travelling is provided with the necessary documents in good time

If you need further advice on your legal rights as a parent, don’t hesitate to contact our friendly and experienced Family Law team today.

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blank Written by Hannah Smith, Family Law Specialist

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