Holidays abroad

For separated parents, it is not as simple as booking a hotel and hopping on a plane.

Many parents are unaware that in most cases, they will need the permission of their ex to take their child abroad on holiday. 

While there is much to organise and look forward to when travelling overseas with your family, if you are a separated parent or have a different surname to that of your children, there are some additional things to consider to help avoid problems. Exactly what is needed depends on whether there are any court orders already in place setting out the living arrangements for your children. 

Our lawyers

Our specialist children lawyers have years of experience successfully dealing with disputes involving children, particularly where there is parental conflict. We can help: 

  • pre-empt problems involving holidays and ensuring they are avoided in the first place  
  • support parents in mediation, helping them to resolve issues themselves about holidays 
  • by making urgent applications for court orders where agreement to take a child abroad is being unreasonably withheld or where there are concerns that a parent may not return to this country with the child after the holiday  

What you need to know

If you and your ex both have parental responsibility for your children and there are no court orders in place, then neither of you can take the children out of the UK on holiday without the consent and written permission of the other (or anybody else who has parental responsibility for the children).    

Parental responsibility is automatically given to birth mothers. If you and your ex were married or in a civil partnership when your children were born, then both of you will have parental responsibility. For births registered after 1 December 2003, provided their name is on the birth certificate, unmarried fathers will also have parental responsibility.  

The situation is a little different if you do already have a court order setting out who your children live with. You might hear this referred to as a child arrangements order, a live-with order, a residence order or even a custody order. If in the order it says that the children live with you, you’re able to take your children out of the UK for up to 28 days without needing your ex’s consent. If you want to go away for more than 28 days, you will need your ex’s agreement.  

Whether there is a court order or not, you are always best to try to come to an agreement about the holiday together with your ex. You could use direct communication, negotiating through solicitors or mediation. Coming to your own agreement in advance helps to avoid misunderstandings and the need to involve the court as well as managing any problems with a holiday interrupting regular contact arrangements. It is reasonable for the other parent to ask for full details of the holiday including where their child will be staying, the dates of travel, details of any flights and contact telephone numbers.  


Vlogs from our family law solicitors

This vlog considers the circumstances in which a parent can take a child on holiday abroad (out of the jurisdiction of England & Wales) with and without the permission of the other parent.

Frequently Asked Questions

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