Taking Your Children on Holiday Abroad After Divorce

27 July 2021 Blog Donna Goodsell

With coronavirus travel restrictions finally lifting, it's a good time to think about the legal position of separated parents in relation to taking the children on holiday abroad.

For many parents who have maintained good levels of communication regarding the arrangements for children following separation and divorce, holidays abroad will probably require no more than a quick chat to establish the details and to ensure there are no reasons why the other parent would not be happy for the children to leave the country for a short period of time.

However, if the relationship is not so amicable, the issue of taking children abroad, even for only a few days, can be a tricky one.

The importance of permission

Firstly, we cannot stress enough the importance of 'permission' when taking children under the age of 16 out of the country following divorce or separation. Taking a child out of the country without the other parent or legal guardian giving their permission is classified as child abduction in legal terms and is a criminal offence.

Even if both parents have parental responsibility, if you are divorced or separated, you must seek permission from the other parent to take your child abroad for any length of time. This is the same for the parent who lives with the children on a day to basis as it is for the absent parent.

Child Arrangements Orders and the 28-day rule

Some parents believe that because a Child Arrangements Order has established them as the primary carer of a child, i.e. they live with the child on a day-to-day basis, that it is okay to take the child out of the country for up to 28 days without seeking permission from the other parent.

This on its own is correct, however, if the terms of the Order state that the other parent has certain contact rights, i.e. the right to spend time with the children on regular days and at specified times, then the primary carer could be in breach of the Order if they take the children out of the country without the other parent's permission, therefore denying the other parent their right to contact.

If you believe that your former spouse might not give their permission for you to take your children abroad on holiday on the grounds of contact arrangements set out in a Child Arrangements Order, you can apply to the Family Court for a Specific Issue Order allowing you to take your children out of the country for a specified reason, or period. The Court will consider the child's welfare when making their decision.

Specialist Family Law legal advice is essential if you wish to apply for a Court Order in relation to your children – Goodsells Family Law can help.

Good parenting behaviour and arranging holidays abroad

It can be a really difficult situation if the other parent withholds their permission for you to take your children on holiday, but more often than not, if the request is made in plenty of time and with full information about the date, duration, location and full contact details, many parents will give their permission.

If you are the parent being asked to permit a holiday abroad, it is perfectly natural to 'worry' about your children leaving the country without you. However, it could be detrimental to them to deny the opportunity to have a holiday with the other parent and experience other countries and cultures. When deciding whether or not to give your permission, you should weigh up the potential for harm if you deny your children the opportunity, especially if based on selfish reasons such as your worry while they are away or that you would be envious of them spending time with your former partner.

If you are concerned about the travel restrictions and risks associated with holidays during the current coronavirus pandemic, you can seek information on the Gov.UK website about the measures in place. You could also ask the other parent for information about the holiday company they are booking with so that you can make enquiries yourself about the health and safety measures they have in place.

Specialists in Child Law

If you are concerned that your children are at risk of being taken out of the country without your permission, or that the other parent will not bring them home on the specified date, talk to the Child Law specialists at Goodsells Family Law today. We have significant experience in such matters and all issues relating to children and divorce.