Info & Advice

Do both parents have to agree to the child being taken on holiday?

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As the warmer weather draws closer, summer holiday plans are being made by parents. But do separated or divorced parents need permission from the other parent to take their children on holiday? And what can you do if they refuse to consent? This article answers some of the most common questions.

Do I need consent from the other parent for a holiday in the UK?

If it is your time to have the children during the planned break, then you can take them away without having to obtain consent from the other parent, providing you don’t take them out of the UK. However, if you book a holiday in the UK during the other parent’s time with the children, then you would obviously need to inform them and get consent. The way to avoid a dispute is to only book a holiday during your scheduled time.

Although consent to take the children on holiday within the UK is not required, there are some important issues to consider:

  • As mentioned above, the holiday should ideally be timed for when the children would usually be with you. If you cannot arrange this, perhaps because of work commitments, then you should raise this with the other parent before booking the holiday. This ensures that it is agreed and any lost time between the children and the other parent is compensated.
  • There is no specific requirement or law which requires a parent wishing to take the children away within the UK to tell the other parent about the holiday (unless it infringes upon the other parent’s time), or even to tell them where you are going. It may be sensible to put yourself in the other parent’s position and consider how you would feel if the situation was reversed.

The one occasion when consent would be required is if there is a wish to take the children out of school for the holiday. If one parent refuses to allow the children to be removed from school for a holiday in the UK, and the matter was raised as a Prohibited Steps Order or Specific Issue application in court, it is unlikely a court would sanction the holiday. Particularly given the government’s position of fining parents for taking their children out of school.

Do I need consent to take from the other parent for a holiday abroad?

If both parents have parental responsibility, then neither can take the children abroad without first obtaining the other’s permission. There are exceptions to this rule, which are:

  • There is a Child Arrangements Order specifying the children should live with one parent. Here, the parent in whose favour the order has been made, can take the child out of the country for a maximum period of 28 days without the permission of the other parent, unless there is a court order preventing it.
  • There is an order from the court giving permission for the children to be taken abroad

If you want to make the most of your summer holidays and wish to take the children with you, whether that is within the UK or overseas, don’t leave making the necessary arrangements or asking permission until the last minute. That way, any conflict, refusal, or dispute, has plenty of time to be resolved.

How do I know if I have parental responsibility?

The child’s mother automatically acquires parental responsibility from birth. The father also has parental responsibility if:

  • He was married to the child’s mother at the time of its birth
  • He marries the mother after the child’s birth
  • Is named on the child’s birth certificate (from 1st December 2003)
  • Has been granted parental responsibility by the court
  • The mother and father, not being married to each other at the time of the child’s birth, have entered into a parental responsibility agreement conferring it on the father

It is possible for a mother to take a child out of the UK without obtaining the father’s permission if they don’t have parental responsibility. However, it is always better to avoid any unnecessary conflict by trying to agree in advance any holidays with the other parent, even if they don’t have parental responsibility.

What if my ex refuses to agree to our child being taken abroad on holiday?

If one parent refuses to consent to the other taking the child overseas on holiday, the parent seeking to do so must apply to the court for it to be dealt with via a Specific Issue application. The court will look at whether the holiday is in the child’s best interests when deciding to grant or refuse permission.

Can one parent prevent the other from taking the child aboard on holiday?

If consent of the other parent is required, the fact that it has not been given means that the other parent cannot legally remove the child from the country without a court order. The onus is therefore on the parent seeking to go on holiday to get permission from the court. If the other parent is concerned that the child will be removed without their permission, then they can make an application for a Prohibited Steps Order.

Sometimes, a parent may be worried about the risks of the parent failing to return the child after the holiday, or staying overseas. If so, an application should be made as soon as possible to ensure the risk of child abduction is minimised.

What does consent look like?

Whilst having written consent is not strictly necessary, it is recommended that a letter be obtained from the other parent. This will demonstrate that consent has been sought and granted. It may also be required at foreign borders or when leaving the UK, with border force security asking to see it. The letter should include the following information:

  • Dates of the holiday, including duration and return dates
  • Destination of holiday including hotel address
  • State the purpose of travelling
  • Name and address of both parents
  • Name, address, and date of birth for all children
  • Details of any relevant court orders
  • Contact phone numbers for both parents

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