Do I Need Permission to Take My Children on Holiday?

Can you take the children on holiday without permission from the other parent or the Court? It depends. In this blog I will set out what you need to consider. But as getting it wrong can have very serious consequences please get advice from a family law expert if you have any doubts.

The important factors you will need to consider are –

  • Is the holiday in England or Wales.
  • Or is it elsewhere – Scotland, Ireland or abroad.
  • Is it for less than 28 days.
  • Has the Court made a child arrangements order saying with whom the children will live.
  • Do you both have parental responsibility.

The holiday is in England or Wales

If the children live with you, you can take them on holiday without permission. If they don’t live with you, you can take them on holiday during a contact visit. But it’s best if parents discuss holiday plans well in advance in order to keep things amicable and to avoid misunderstandings.

The holiday is elsewhere – Scotland, Ireland or abroad

You can take the children on holiday without the other parent’s permission or the permission of the Court if –

  • there is a child arrangements order saying the children live with you, even if it’s not all of the time (as long as the time is defined), and
  • the holiday is less than a month (usually defined as 28 days)

For the lawyers and law students among you, this is set out in s.13 Children Actthe geographical extent of which is England and Wales. For everyone else, please read your child arrangements order carefully and all the way through.

But if the other parent doesn’t have parental responsibility (see below) you don’t have to consult them at all. However taking a child abroad where there is no child arrangements order and without the consent of the other parent when they do have parental responsibility is child abduction – a criminal offence. So if you have the slightest doubt, please get advice from a family law expert.

Here again, don’t forget to discuss your plans with the other parent in order to keep things amicable and avoid misunderstandings.

Who has parental responsibility?

  • all mothers
  • fathers who
    • were married to the mother at the time of the birth or subsequently
    • are named on the birth certificate (from 1 December 2003)
    • have entered into a parental responsibility agreement
    • have a parental responsibility order

Discuss your plans with the other parent 

This applies whether the children live with you or the other parent. Start discussing your plans as early as possible. Share your holiday itinerary. Take turns with significant holidays such as Passover, Easter or Ramadan.

If the children don’t live with you, you might be surprised how keen the other parent is for them to go on holiday with you. This doesn’t mean they aren’t a good parent, it’s just that they need a break. And if the children live with you, remember to respect their right to enjoy quality time with their other parent.

If you can’t agree,

may be the answer. In mediation or collaborative law, a family consultant can be involved to help with communication or non-legal issues.

Discuss your plans with the children 

Bracing walks on the coast might sound great to you but the children might prefer to laze around on a sunny beach. And don’t forget the children have their own commitments. Is there something coming up they really don’t want to miss? Or are exams on the horizon, should they be at home revising?

Make sure they stay in touch with the other parent 

When they’re away on holiday, even if they’re having a great time with you, they are likely to miss their other parent so work out in advance how and when they will stay in contact.

Seeing other family members

Don’t forget holidays are a valuable opportunity for children to see their wider family.


It can be difficult for grandparents to see their grandchildren, let alone come to an agreement to take them on holiday. See my blog Do grandparents have rights?

Contact Us

For Family Law advice contact  Joanne Houston on 01962 217640 for email

Disclaimer: The topics covered in this blog post Do I need permission to take my children on holiday? are complex. They are provided for general guidance only. If any of the circumstances mentioned in this blog apply to you, seek expert legal advice.