Do I really need permission to take my child on holiday? By Sara Barnes | The Law House

Do I really need permission to take my child on holiday? By Sara Barnes

By in Family Law Category on March 25th, 2014

My most frequently asked question.  One parent, usually the mother, is astounded when I tell her that she must have the consent of the other parent before embarking on plans to take their child for a short holiday.  This is the case even if are separated from their child’s father and she is the main carer for their child. It is not always necessary to obtain consent from the other parent. The most common situations are as follows:

1.Where both of you have parental responsibility – A mother automatically has parental responsibility but an unmarried father may not.  If both of you have parental responsibility for your child and there are no court orders in respect of that child, then neither of you is free to remove the child from the UK, whether it be for a holiday or permanently, without the others consent. 

2.Where only you as the mother has parental responsibility – Strictly speaking it is not necessary to obtain permission from the other parent.  However,  if the other parent is involved and plays an active part in the child’s life, you should inform them of the proposed holiday.  If they don’t agree it’s possibile that they could successfully apply for and obtain parental responsibility and an order preventing the child’s removal.

3.Where there is a residence order in place – A person with a residence order in their favour can take a child away for a period up to a month without obtaining permission from all those with parental responsibility.

Please do not panic if you are thinking of holidaying abroad and realise you need the consent of another parent – the consent of the other parent should not be unreasonably withheld.  If it was it is highly likely that upon application to the court, the court would override the refusal to consent and make an order in your favour.

Where possible, it is  best to agree holiday arrangements in advance.  This avoids any misunderstanding or costly rash applications to the court to prevent a child’s removal from the UK.  It is sensible to provide the other parent with details of the holiday, including the destination, where the child will be staying, dates and contact details.

Sometimes there can be genuine cause for concern that a child may not be returned.  If this is the case, it is advisable to seek legal advice to ensure protective measures are put in place whether that be an order preventing a child’s removal or a ‘bond’ put in place to ensure the child’s return.

If you have any concerns about removing your child from the UK temporarily or permanently and would like sound, practical expert advice, please contact me on 01245 809 556 or