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Authority to Take Children on Holiday

View profile for Simon Leach
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For unmarried, separated or divorced parents, taking your child on holiday this summer may require careful negotiation with the other parent.  This is especially likely if you do not have parental responsibility for your child entitling you to take decisions on their behalf and, crucially, apply for their passport if you would like to take them abroad.

Simon Leach, family law Solicitor at Family Law Group in Nottingham explains:

 “Having parental responsibility for your child means that you can make decisions about a range of matters concerning their life.  If, where and when they go on holiday is just one aspect of this; you can also help influence where they live, how they are educated, their religious upbringing and the medical treatment they receive.

Children on Holiday

A mother automatically has parental responsibility for her child from birth.  A father will usually have parental responsibility if they are married to the mother or if they are named on the child’s birth certificate (if the child was born after December 2003).  A father who does not automatically have parental responsibility can obtain it by signing an agreement with the mother or applying to the court for an order.” 

If both parents have parental responsibility, and there is no child arrangements order or any other restriction in place limiting the contact either parent may have with the child, you simply need to obtain the agreement of the other parent to take your child on holiday.  If agreement cannot be reached you may need to consult a solicitor for advice.  Your solicitor will discuss the best approach to try to resolve the matter, including using mediation or collaborative law.  In some circumstances, you may need to apply to the court for permission to take your child on holiday. 

If you apply to the court, the judge will consider factors such as the purpose, place and proposed duration of the holiday.  If permission is granted, the court will expect you to provide the other parent with full details of your holiday plans, including flight times and numbers if you are travelling by air, the address and telephone number of where you will be staying and also a contact number for you while you are away. 

A parent with a child arrangements order can usually take a child on holiday outside England and Wales for up to one month without the written consent of the other parent.  However, it is still advisable to try to agree the arrangements in advance. 

For more information about parental responsibility and arrangements for children, please contact Simon Leach on 0115 945 4555 or email