If you wish to take your children on holiday and your former spouse says no; or you believe there is a threat that your former partner or spouse  may be remove your children from the country without your consent, read on to find out more regarding the law in relation to taking children abroad.

Oratto's member solicitors can help you understand this area of law. Simply call today and we will help put you in touch with the right solicitor for your needs.

Taking children abroad – the law

This can often be a confusing issue for parents and many do not realise that unless there is an appropriate court order in place, the law requires the consent of all those with parental responsibility before the child can leave the UK, even if it is just for a single night. To remove a child from the UK without either the consent of those with PR or leave (permission) from the court is abduction, which is a serious offence.

If you have a Child Arrangements Order (or an older Residence Order) that states the children live with you, then consent from all those with PR is not required, and you are able to take the children out of the UK for up to 28 days.

Consent isn't normally required for holidays within the United Kingdom, including Scotland and Northern Ireland.

Who needs to give consent?

All those who have parental responsibility are required to give their consent; usually this is only you and your child's other parent but if there is an additional person with PR such as a step-parent or legal guardian then their consent is also required. It may be a good idea to put the request in writing and include:

  • The dates of the holiday
  • The location of holiday (country and resort/town)
  • Details of those who will be accompanying you
  • Emergency contact details

It can be beneficial to provide reassurance that the holiday won't impact on the other parent's time with child (if it the dates do clash then suggest some additional time before and after the holiday).

Furthermore, it may be useful to include in your letter a sentence along the lines of "Our child will benefit greatly from a short holiday in the sun, I trust that you will agree to me taking [child] to [country].

Difficulties obtaining consent

If the other parent (and/or anyone else with PR) won't give their consent to the holiday, then the first step is to ask the other parent to attend mediation and for you to arrange a Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting (MIAM) with a family mediator who will assess your suitability for joint mediation sessions. If mediation is unsuitable or unsuccessful in facilitating a resolution, then the next step is to apply to court for a Specific Issues Order. Oratto member solicitors are able to offer you important legal advice and practical help with the application.


If your former spouse/partner has consented to the children going abroad, it is wise to have a letter from their solicitor confirming this in writing. This will help prevent any potential issues at airports, seaports etc

Sharing information

Unless the court order explicitly states otherwise, legally you are not obliged to share details of where you are going, which hotel you are staying in, what airline you are using etc. However, it's not unreasonable for a parent to request those details, so they know where their children's will be spending their holidays and for the parent taking the children away to supply basic information such as location, flight numbers and an emergency contact number.

It is important for the parent who is staying at home to respect their children's' holiday time with their other parent and not intrude by calling unnecessarily or by setting unreasonable limitations on activities.

Where an existing Child Arrangements Order is in place

If you already have a Child Arrangements Order setting out the arrangements for your children, then it is very likely that there will be defined holiday periods for each parent set out in the Order. It is important that parents respect the defined holiday periods and other arrangements when they are making their own holiday plans and ensure that any proposed holiday doesn't encroach on the other parent's defined arrangements and holiday periods – otherwise this will be considered a breach of the Child Arrangements Order which is a serious issue.

Help from Oratto

If you believe that your child or children are at serious risk of being unlawfully removed from the UK, it is imperative that you seek legal advice immediately. Oratto member solicitors are experts in this area and can very quickly give you the legal advice you need and take swift action on your behalf, which may include an emergency application to Court.

Similarly, if you would like help in legally taking your child out of the UK for a holiday or family event, let Oratto help you find the family law solicitor best suited to your circumstances.