If I’m separated, can I take my child on holiday?

  • Posted

For most parents, taking their child on holiday doesn’t present a problem. But for separated parents, the issue of international travel can be difficult to navigate – especially if there are underlying concerns about abduction.

So if you’re separated, can you take your child abroad without the other parent’s consent? Surprisingly the answer is no – not without a Child Arrangements Order or written consent from the family court, as Charmaine Moger, family law solicitor, outlines below.

Parental responsibility

Without any orders in place, it’s down to the person with parental responsibility to decide whether a child can be taken abroad. Often this is both parents, in which case either parent needs the written consent of the other (as well as anyone else with parental responsibility) – even if it’s just for a week’s holiday in Europe.

It might sound excessive, but taking your child abroad without this permission is child abduction – whether intentional or otherwise.

Child Arrangements Order (CAO)

If you have a Child Arrangement Order (previously called a Residence Order, Contact Order or Custody Order), you can take your child out of the UK for up to one month without the other parent’s written consent – even if they have parental responsibility.

However, the person without the Child Arrangements Order will still need the other parent’s written consent if they wish to take their child abroad.

Getting permission from a court

If you share parental responsibility and can’t get consent from the other party, you can apply to the court. You must provide details of your trip – where you’ll be going, with whom and for how long.

Essentially the court will decide whether to allow you to take your child out of the country for a holiday.

When the court reviews an application, it will act in the best interests of the child. Very rarely will the court stop a parent taking their child abroad, especially if they’re confident that the parent will return to the UK.

For the court to refuse to make an order allowing the child to go on holiday, the other parent will need to have a good reason to object – for example, the child will miss school at crucial time.

In reality though, common sense usually prevails. Clearly a week in Spain is likely to be viewed as carrying significantly less risk than six weeks visiting a country outside the Hague Convention; however, the court will consider the risk of international child abduction as part of its overall decision-making process.

Next steps

Some parents are concerned that the trip is simply a ruse for taking their child overseas and not returning them. For the vast majority though, it’s simply a case of one parent taking their child on holiday.

If you’re a parent wishing to take your child abroad, or if you wish to stop your child being taken overseas, call our specialist family law solicitors on 0117 325 2929 or complete our 
online enquiry form.


How can we help you?

We’re here to help. Please fill in the form and we’ll get back to you as soon as we can. Or call us on 0117 325 2929.