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Can I Take my Child on Holiday Without Getting my Ex-partner’s Agreement?

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As thoughts turn to the long school summer holiday, parents are starting to ask if they need their ex-partner’s agreement to their holiday plans. In this blog our expert family law solicitors answer your questions on going on holiday with your children after your separation or divorce.

Online and London Family Law Solicitors and Children Lawyers

For children law legal advice call the expert London family lawyers at OTS Solicitors on 0203 959 9123 or complete our online enquiry form .

Holidays after a divorce

It has been a funny few years, what with travel restrictions and now queue chaos at some airports, threats of economic downturn, and a cost of living crisis. However, many parents are craving a bit of sunshine, or those in the UK on work visas, or with family who have moved overseas, are desperate to take their children to meet extended family members and experience a taste of the culture of their country. Others want their children to be able to accompany them to weddings abroad or to go on a delayed dream trip to Disneyland before the children get too old to appreciate it.

Child arrangement orders and holidays  

Holidaying after a divorce is a matter of agreement and negotiation unless you have a child arrangement order that says you are the main carer and that your child lives with you. If you do have this type of child arrangement order you can take your child on holiday in the UK or overseas without needing your ex’s agreement to your proposed holiday unless:

  • You plan on going overseas for more than 4 weeks with the child or
  • Your holiday will cut into court ordered contact time in which case you would be in breach of the contact order

The problem can normally be resolved by agreement. For example, by offering replacement contact time before or after the holiday or giving up some of your parenting time when the other parent wants to take the child away.

If you don’t have a child arrangement order in place (and most parents don’t have an order) then it really is a question of negotiation as normally both parents will have parental responsibility  for their child.

If you are an unmarried father and your name was not put on the child’s birth certificate then you won't have parental responsibility automatically though you can normally get it by signing an agreement or court order. If you are interested in getting parental responsibility,  call our children lawyers on 0203 959 9123.

If there is no child arrangement order in place, or you aren’t named as the carer in the court order, then you will need either:

  • A court order allowing you to take the child overseas on holiday or
  • The agreement of your ex-partner

This is the case even if the foreign holiday duration is for less than four weeks or even though your ex may have  agreed to your taking the child abroad on holiday in other years or even if you have agreed to your ex-partner taking the child on holiday.

Holiday orders

Most children law solicitors will advise that a holiday order will be granted if you want to take your child on a fairly standard holiday, such as a beach trip to Spain or a trip to Disneyland. A long trip overseas for the duration of the summer school holidays may be more difficult to get a holiday order for. However, much depends on the country where you will be holidaying, if there any real and justifiable child abduction concerns and if the other parent is going to be able to spend extra time with the child during other school holidays to make up for the fact that you have had the child with you throughout the school summer holiday.

If your ex won't agree to your taking the child on a holiday then the first step is to find out why. Is it fear of child abduction and you not returning the child to the UK or is it because you are going on holiday with a new partner or to a country that your ex-partner considers dangerous because of crime rates or the level of COVID-19 infections.

Applying for a holiday order

If you need a court order for permission to take your child abroad on holiday as your ex-partner (or anyone else with parental responsibility for the child) will not agree to the holiday then it is best to get the order as soon as you can so you can book the holiday with confidence, and knowing you won't have to cancel it.

If your ex-partner gives you the verbal go ahead it is best to get the agreement in writing , even if it is just a text or a what’s-app message. That’s because you then have evidence of agreement if your ex later changes their mind about agreeing to your planned holiday.

It can be frustrating to think that you need agreement or a court order so you can take your child on holiday but that is the law.

In the worst case scenario, if you try to leave the UK without permission you could be accused of child abduction or even stopped from leaving the UK to go on holiday. Ignoring the need for an agreement or a court order therefore isn’t the best or a sensible option.

If you do need a court order, the children lawyers at OTS Solicitors can quickly start the court application process to secure your order.

Online and London Family Law Solicitors and Children Lawyers

For children law legal advice call the expert London family lawyers at OTS Solicitors on 0203 959 9123 or complete our online enquiry form .

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