Divorce and Separation Issues: Can my ex take the children on holiday abroad?

A range of issues can crop up both before, during and after separation and divorce, particularly if there are children involved. One frequently asked question arises when one parent wants to take the child(ren) on holiday abroad following a divorce or separation and the other parent has concerns over this. Parents want to know what their rights and responsibilities are in this situation.

If you or your ex want to take the children abroad on holiday, you should ask permission from anyone who has parental responsibility.

Who has parental responsibility?

The mother of a child or children always has parental responsibility automatically from that child's birth and so does the father if the parents are either married (even if they subsequently separate or divorce) or if he is named on the birth certificate.

If there is a residence order in place, the parent named in the order is able to take the child(ren) abroad on holiday for up to 28 days without the permission of the other parent. It is however good practice to seek permission from the other parent at all times and if there is a contact order or child arrangements order in place a parent must make sure that this is complied with.

What if my ex doesn't want me to take the children on holiday abroad?

Firstly, you should be aware that it is a criminal offence to take children out of the country without the permission of others who have parental responsibility (unless as stated above a residence order is in place.) If your ex doesn't agree to the holiday, you'll need to apply to the court to get permission to take the children abroad. The court may not give permission if there is reason to believe the children might not be returned; for example if the person taking the children on holiday has family in that country or has made threats that they won't bring the children back.

If you are concerned about your ex taking the children abroad, you can still apply to the court to either prevent the children being taken out of the country or to get them returned even if you do not have parental responsibility. You should take legal advice if you have any concerns that your ex may not return the children.

Sometimes a parent wishes to take the children out of the country to live abroad. This situation will be covered in more depth in a future post.

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