We’re all going on a summer holiday…? Taking children abroad


by Daniel Sims, Solicitor, Family Department

taking children abroad

With the dark winter months now behind us, many are likely to be planning for their summer holiday and possibly taking children abroad, but for separated parents, this can be more complicated than it might appear.

If both Mum and Dad have ‘Parental Responsibility’ for the children, they have equal rights and responsibilities and neither can dictate the arrangements for when the children are with the other parent.

Subject to any Court Order to the contrary, either parent could take the children for a ‘staycation’ within England and Wales, without the other’s consent, though it is always best practice to discuss and agree this in advance, and to make sure contact times are ‘made up’ before or afterwards.

Foreign holidays are slightly different however – and not just in terms of climate! The standard position is that parents need either permission from the other parent, or an Order from the Court before taking children abroad. Parents with Child Arrangements Orders stating that the children ‘live with’ them can take children abroad for up to 28 days without permission, but parents that do not have the benefit of an Order or the other’s agreement will be committing a criminal offence under the Child Abduction Act 1984.

To avoid holiday dates clashes, and losing large holiday deposits, it is sensible to discuss this months in advance. As part of this, we always advise that travel, accommodation and contact details are shared. Hopefully the other parent will agree to the holiday, in which case it would be prudent to obtain their agreement in writing, so that you can bring it with you to the airport. If the other parent will not agree however, the only option for taking children abroad is to make an application to the Court for permission, by way of a Specific Issue Order.

The outcome of Court proceedings is never certain, but generally holidays are not a problem. Provided the location is not ‘high risk’, and there is no threat of the parent remaining there with the children and not returning, the Court will often take the view that foreign holidays are in the best interests of children, to give them life experiences and broaden their horizons and usually allow the applying parent who is planning on taking children abroad. Such applications can be costly and time-consuming however, and so cannot be made a few weeks before a holiday is due!

As with all other decisions and arrangements made for the children, this matter requires clear communication between the parents, and a focus on what is best for the children.

If you would like advice regarding contact and summer holiday arrangements as well as any other family matter, please contact us at info@fraserdawbarns.com or telephone any of our offices.

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