Family holidays… it’s a time to look forward to sun, sea and sand. Probably the last thing on your mind when planning a holiday is whether your ex partner agrees to you taking the children abroad. But, if they don’t, you could get more than you bargained for at the airport when attempting to get through passport control.

When taking children on holiday abroad, all parties who have Parental Responsibility for the child need to consent to the child being taken out of the country. This is the case unless you have a Residence Order (now called a Child Arrangements Order) that the child lives with you. In those circumstances, you can take the child abroad for up to 4 weeks without the consent of the other parent.

Many parents simply agree the arrangements for the care of their children between themselves. Shared care is increasingly common with children spending some part of the week with each parent. Court orders are only in place in a small percentage of cases.

Most parents want their child to enjoy a holiday abroad and there is usually no problem in obtaining the consent of the other parent – but this consent should be obtained in advance and in writing to avoid difficulties at border control.

Situations have arisen where children with different surnames to their parents have been stopped at the airport by officials requiring proof that the other parent consents to the child going abroad.

With border control agencies tightening up on this issue, I advise that in addition to getting verbal consent from a former partner, it is best to obtain a letter, email or even a text message to approve the plans and let them know when you will be back.

If grandparents are taking their grandchildren abroad alone, they should take similar precautions.

If there is difficulty in obtaining permission to take a child abroad on holiday, then legal advice should be obtained as soon as possible so that disputes can be resolved quickly. If the other parent will not agree to the child going abroad, then a referral to mediation will be made to see if the dispute can be ironed out. There is often an underlying worry as to why permission has not been given.

Provided the trip is taking place during school holidays and it is in the child’s best interests to go, then a Court would usually allow the holiday. Whilst Court proceedings are always a last resort, sometimes they are inevitable.

With summer holidays upon us it is important to be aware of the rules and ensure that, by taking a few simple steps, any legal issues are prevented.


Contact Oratto on 0845 3883765 to speak with a family law adviser or use our contact form to arrange a call-back.


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