The school summer holidays are fast approaching and with it comes one of the busier times of the year for us in the family law department (even more so than January, ‘aka divorce month’).

For divorced couples, arranging time to take holidays with the children can be a divisive issue with many parents unaware of the legalities involved.

It’s important to remember that it’s against the law to take your child out of the country without first getting permission of all those who have parental responsibility of the child (unless permission has been granted by the family court).

Child arrangements order

If you have a child arrangement order in place which dictates that the child lives with you, then you are fine to take them out of England and Wales for up to 4 weeks without needing permission (so long as it doesn’t encroach on any court ordered time that the child would usually spend with them).

However, if you’re planning on taking your child away for longer than 28 days, you will need the permission of everyone with parental responsibility for the child.

What if I can’t get permission?

For whatever reason, if you are unable to get permission from your ex-partner to take your child abroad, you will need to make an application to the family court for a Specific Issue Order. This is an application to the court for authority to take your child away for the proposed holiday.

If you feel your ex-partner is taking your child on a holiday which isn’t in their best interest, for example, the holiday will be during term time causing them to miss school, then you can apply for a prohibited steps order to prevent the proposed holiday from taking place.

When an application is made to the family court, the child’s welfare will always take priority in deciding the outcome.

The Sensible Approach

Always try to avoid making court applications.

You should always attempt to solve any disputes amicably. Court applications are time consuming, expensive and almost always contentious, they should only be considered as a last resort.

The sensible approach is to negotiate holidays ahead of time, providing full disclosure of dates, destination, accommodation details (address, telephone number) and flights numbers. This will provide reassurance for both of you in case of any emergencies.

If you are in a situation where you are unable to reach an agreement with the other parent, you can consult with our specialist family law team to discuss the best approach to resolve the issue. Give us a call on 0161 930 5151, or e-mail 

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