children on beach

If you’re separated or divorced eventually there will be the issue of holidays to tackle.  It doesn’t matter which parent wants to take the kids away for a break, you can’t just go.

Parents are often surprised to discover that, in most cases, they have to get consent from the other parent to take the children out of the country until they reach 18 – and even more surprised to discover that Scotland and Northern Ireland both count as ‘abroad’ in legal terms.

Consent must be given by anyone who has parental responsibility.  So who has parental responsibility?

  • The child’s mother (always)
  • The child’s father, as long as he is named on the child’s birth certificate after 2003 or if he is married to the mother or has a parental responsibility order or a ‘lives with’ order (previously known as a residence order).
  • Anyone who has a ‘lives with’ order – this may include grandparents or other family members, depending on the child’s circumstances.

If you have a ‘lives with’ order then you can take the child abroad for up to a month without needing to consult or get permission from all others with parental responsibility.  However, if there are no ‘lives with’ orders in place, you can’t take the child abroad even for one day without consent from everyone with parental responsibility.

This may seem tedious and unnecessarily fussy, but it’s intended to protect your child.

Don’t turn a holiday into a crisis

Planning a holiday should be fun, especially as the children get older and want to have a say in where they go and what kind of holiday they have.  The sensible approach is to plan well ahead and agree holiday arrangements with the other parent in advance (and before you book) so that there are no misunderstandings.

Make sure your child’s other parent knows where you plan to take them, the dates and travel arrangements and where they’ll be staying.  Ideally, provide contact details for the holiday destination and, if your child doesn’t have their own mobile phone, arrange for them to call or message their other parent on arrival to reassure them.

Consent from the other parent should not be withheld without good reason but, if it is, you can still ask a court to intervene. In that case, having a sensible and secure holiday plan is likely to result in permission being granted by the court for the child to go on holiday with you.

When to say ‘No’

If you’re in the situation where you’ve been asked for consent for your child to accompany their other parent on holiday, it is reasonable to say ‘no’ if you believe they will be travelling to a place that is not safe.  Also, if you have reason to suspect that your child’s other parent may not bring the child back to the UK a ‘no’ is sensible.

If you have concerns or you’re worried about your child’s safety, do seek legal advice.  This can help you to protect your child and prevent them being taken out of the country if you doubt that they will be brought back.

We’re always happy to discuss your situation and advise you of your best course of action, call us on 01245 221699.