Can I take my child on holiday without my ex’s consent?

“We’re all going on a summer holiday, but only if my ex gives consent too”

It’s the time of year where many parents are getting ready to take their children on holiday for a week or two over the summer break. Where parents are separated, and one wishes to travel with the children abroad, there are more things to consider than packing the suitcase and remembering passports. 

Can I take my child on holiday abroad without my ex’s consent?

To give the strict answer – to take a child out of the UK, one must have the consent of everyone who has parental responsibility for that child, unless the court has given permission. 

What this means for most parents is that one parent requires the other’s consent to travel out of the UK with the child, or a court order confirming that they have permission to do so. 

What information should I provide my ex with about the trip? 

It’s advisable to have a conversation with the other parent well in advance of your planned trip and before booking any tickets, and to provide them with specific details of the following: 

  • Flight information; 
  • Accommodation details; 
  • Contact details; and 
  • Travel insurance details.

Do I need my ex’s agreement in writing?

Yes. You may well find that border control, both in the UK and abroad, will require a written agreement signed by both parents. Some countries require more formality, such as a notarised agreement, so it’s best to check with the relevant authorities before travelling. 

What should be recorded in the agreement?

The agreement should, at the very least, record:

  • the other parent’s agreement to the travel;
  • the purpose of the trip; and
  • details of the return journey.

Depending on the circumstances and the intended holiday destination, it may be that other more bespoke provisions are required. 

What can I do if my ex won’t agree?

Your ex may well be reassured by the provision of the above information and, for example, agreed times when the child will be able to phone or video call them during the holiday. However, if your ex refuses to agree to the proposed trip, you might consider a form of dispute resolution such as mediation or arbitration. You can learn more about these alternatives to court here.

If your ex continues to refuse to provide consent, and you remain determined to take the proposed trip with your child, the last resort is to make application to the court for a Specific Issue Order. This is likely to prove a lengthy and expensive option and, typically, these applications are made where a parent wishes to permanently relocate abroad with the child as opposed to take a holiday. 

What if I take a child out of the UK without my ex’s consent?

This constitutes child abduction, save for if: 

  • you have the court’s permission to do so; or 
  • you have a court order naming you as the person with whom the child lives, in which case you can take the child out of the UK for a period of up to one month. 

What Moore Barlow can do to help

If you would like advice in respect of proposed travel with your child, whether for a short holiday or longer-term, Moore Barlow lawyers are experienced in dealing with the relevant areas of law. Contact us to find out how we can assist.