Posted by Gemma Sparks on 27th February 2020
Last updated 25th February 2021

Many separated parents reach an amicable agreement about what time the children will spend with each parent during school holidays. If you can’t agree, our advice is firstly to attempt mediation. This is a dynamic, alternative dispute resolution process in which a mediator will help both of you to identify, negotiate and come to a mutually-acceptable agreement.

If mediation doesn’t help or you are unable to access it for any reason, this is when you should talk to a specialist family lawyer, who will be able to assist you in reaching an agreement without issuing court proceedings. NB, if court adjudication is required, an application under the Children Act will be necessary.

Holidays abroad – do I need consent?

If you are named on a Child Arrangements Order (CAO) as the parent that the child lives with, you can legally take your child out of the UK for up to one month without the consent of the other parent or any other persons with Parental Responsibility (PR). However, we would advise you to always seek consent where possible.

If you are not named in the Child Arrangements Order as the person with whom the child should live, you must seek the consent of the other parent or persons with parental responsibility, before the child is taken on holiday overseas.

Can the other parent stop me from taking our children on holiday?

If there is a CAO in place, the other parent can still object and make an application to the court for a Prohibited Steps Order (PSO). This basically means that it is up to the court to decide whether the holiday can go ahead.

What happens if there is no CAO in place?

If there is no existing CAO, either parent can legally take the child abroad without the consent of the other. Again, we would advise against doing this; if you take your child or children out of the country without consent or a court order, you may risk an application for a PSO being made against you, or you could even face allegations of child abduction (although this is a worst case scenario).

If consent of the other parent is withheld, an application for a Specific Issue Order will need to be made for the court to determine whether permission is granted to remove the child or children from the UK for the purposes of the holiday.

If you would like to discuss any of these issues, please contact our specialist Children Team on 01392 421777. Your first appointment is free.

Need some advice? Get in touch today

Gemma Sparks is a multiple-award winning Solicitor at The Family Law Company. She leads our Children team and has been recognised by the Devon and Somerset Law Society for her work on Children Law and Domestic Abuse cases.

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