Holiday headaches

How many of your clients may find themselves in a situation similar to the scene below this Easter or summer?

Picture the scene….your children have just arrived back from an overnight stay with your ex and announce that they are off to Spain in the next school holiday. The children are excited but this is the first you have heard about it. Your initial reaction is to panic and then the anger sets in. What if the children aren’t returned after the holiday? How will they cope in a foreign country without you? Why haven’t you been consulted about this?

With foreign travel so easy and UK summers so poor, holidays abroad are often more attractive and cheaper than holidays in England and Wales. However, the law states that a child cannot be taken abroad without the permission of both parents except in very narrow circumstances. So, if a child is taken abroad without the permission of the other parent, even with the best of intentions that would amount to child abduction.

So how can you help your client if he/she finds themselves in this position?

Point them in our direction. We will tell them:

  • In most cases parents are more than happy to give permission for a holiday abroad but there may also be occasions when a parent objects to the holiday, not always for good reason. In those cases, it may be necessary to apply to a court for permission to take a child abroad for a holiday. More often than not, the court will give approval as long as it is satisfied that the proposed arrangements are reasonable and that the child will be safely returned. In some cases the court will build in arrangements for the children to phone home and will often direct that full details of the holiday plans are provided to the parent who is staying at home.
  • If there are genuine concerns about a parent not returning the children at the end of a holiday, the court might insist on some security from the parent travelling with the children before giving permission for the holiday

So do parents always need permission from the other parent?

If the parent has a residence order from the court, the answer is no. In this case the parent can take the child abroad for a holiday for up to a month without the permission of the other parent.

Our advice

In an ideal world, parents should always try to agree holiday arrangements. This prevents ill feeling and often avoids the need to involve the court which can be expensive. Arrangements may need to be made for passports to be handed over or to be renewed so cooperation is key. Permission for the holiday should be recorded in writing between the parents and will set out the arrangements for travel, the destination address and telephone contact details.

For further advice on this or any other family law matters please contact Kim Aucott on 0161 234 8874 or email