Going on a holiday is usually a pleasurable experience, although planning and packing can be stressful. However, for separated parents who do not know their rights and responsibilities going on holiday could lead to a last-minute nightmare involving allegations of child abduction and criminal charges.

Separated parents are often shocked to find out they do not have an automatic right to take their own children on holiday. Amidst the stress of sorting out travel arrangements and packing it would not occur to them that they may need consent or even a court order to enjoy a well-deserved break.

As a family lawyer in Staffordshire for over 20 years, I have seen first-hand the upset and distress caused (not to mention the potential financial loss of the last minute cancellation) when consent to a holiday has not been requested or has been refused.

For UK holidays, it is always advisable to discuss and agree on a holiday well in advance; otherwise, you will need consent if there is an Order enabling another party to see a child.

For holidays outside the UK, the key is to understand Parental Responsibility, for more details on this please click on the link to read my previous blog titled, Parental Responsibility explained but the basic principles are:

  • If you are the only person with Parental Responsibility you will not need to obtain consent
  • If you are not the only person, you must obtain consent from everyone who does have Parental Responsibility
  • If you have a Child Arrangements Order that states the children live with you, you can go abroad for up to 28 days without consent unless the Order provides for arrangements for someone else to see the children

If you fail to get permission you may find yourself accused of child abduction, which is defined as taking a child under 16 away from the person who usually cares for them and has Parental Responsibility without their consent.

If anyone with Parental Responsibility refuses to give consent you can apply to the court for a Specific Issue order; that is an order dealing with a particular problem over caring for children which are in dispute between the parents. If granted the Court will give permission for the holiday to take place.

If you are the parent objecting to a holiday you can apply to the court for a Prohibited Steps order, which stops a parent from doing something or taking a particular step in relation to a child.

This is a complicated area where many factors can make a difference to the overall outcome and legal advisors need to act quickly and decisively. It is essential to take advice as early as possible if there is any doubt about your parental rights to avoid any potential conflict.

If you need advice regarding parental responsibility or are faced with a refusal to consent to an imminent holiday our team of family lawyers at Beswicks Legal have the knowledge and experience to act quickly to negotiate an agreement or if necessary, advise upon an application to the court.

If you would like a confidential chat about this or any aspect of family law please contact 01782 205000 or enquiry@beswicks.com