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The rules on taking children abroad - holidays and relocation

View profile for Sally Clark
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It might not be as simple as you think taking your children on holiday. Do not fall into the traps that many parents face when taking their children on a holiday abroad. What many parents don’t realise is that whether it is for a short period for a family holiday or on a more permanent basis, consent is required from both parents before a child leaves the UK. Without consent of the other parent or an Order from the court it is Child Abduction.

Taking children abroad for a holiday

It is not against the law for one parent to take their children on holiday abroad, however it is against the law to do so without the consent of the other parent or an order from the Court. 

If you are wishing to go on holiday with your children ask the other parent if they consent to the holiday before booking it. All parents have the right to know how long you are going away for and the specific details regarding the holiday such as flight time and number and the address of where you will be staying. 

If you are denied consent by the other party, an application to the Court can be made. You can apply for a specific issue order. 

If there is already a child arrangements order in place between you and the other parent, the rules are slightly different. If you have an order from the Court stating that the children’s permanent home is with you then you are allowed to remove the children for up to one month from the UK. You are not required to obtain the other parent’s consent if the holiday is going to be less than one month. However, it is still always best to seek consent of the other parent in these circumstances so that they know where the child/ren are going to be.

Relocating abroad with your children

There are many decisions to make when you are thinking of relocating with your children out of the UK. Both parents should be involved in the decision to relocate children as it inevitably means a disruption in their normal day to day life and ultimately means they are going to be a large distance away from one of their parents. 

As with taking children abroad for a holiday, it is against the law to remove a child from the UK on a permanent basis without the consent of the other parent or an order from the Court. 

If you are unable to obtain the consent of the other party, an application can be made to the Court for what is known as a relocation application or leave to remove. 

In a relocation application the court will look at all aspects of the child’s life to reach a decision. The Court will make a decision based on the child’s well being making sure that the child maintains a relationship with both parents. They will want to know:

  • The reasons behind the proposed move
  • Where the child is going to be living and with whom
  • What school the child is going to be attending
  • Is there any extended family in the area 
  • What proposals are there for the child to continue to see the parent who is not moving with them

If the Court does make a relocation order allowing a parent to move with the child abroad, they are able to include safeguards in the order to ensure the child is still able to have a relationship with the parent who is not moving. This can include the time they are to spend with that parent during school holidays, arrangements for transport and contact by way of telephone, email and other means. 

If you have any queries regarding taking children abroad or are concerned that your child is going to be taken out of the country without your agreement and would like some advice then please contact one of our offices to speak to one of family law experts