We’re all going on a…

The school summer holiday period is here and whilst they are a welcome break for your hard working children, they can cause problems for parents – particularly those who are separated and co-parenting.

For family lawyers, this can be a busy time of year as often issues arise for separated parents when they mention to the other the prospect of taking their children on holiday, be it in England and Wales, or abroad.

Many parents are unaware that it is a criminal offence to take their child out of England and Wales without the permission of every person who has parental responsibility for the child unless permission of the Family Court has been granted.

However, if a Child Arrangements Order has been made by the Family Court stating that a child is to live with a particular parent then that parent may take their child out of England and Wales for up to 4 weeks at a time without permission from the other parent, provided the holiday will not conflict with time that a court order provides would ordinarily spend with the other parent. If the intended period of travel is longer than 28 days, then permission from everyone with parental responsibility or authority from the Family Court is required.

In circumstances where one parent seeks permission from the other to take a child on holiday but permission is not forthcoming, then an application can be made to the Family Court for a Specific Issue Order. This type of court application would ask the court for authority to remove the child from England and Wales for the purpose of the proposed holiday.

While you may not be on ideal terms with your ex-partner, it is important that you remain considerate when making plans. If your ex-partner would normally see your children every other weekend, try not to reduce these times just because you want to make other plans. 

Regardless of whether you are going abroad for a holiday, visiting somewhere in the UK or enjoying a ‘staycation’, it is important both parents feel comfortable about the holiday their children will be having.

Prior to any school holidays, try to agree dates as soon as the holiday timetable for the school year is known. An approach to the other parent can then be made setting out suggestions for division of time for each holiday and highlighting any proposed holidays abroad. Full details of such holidays should be given including: destination, dates, accommodation address, telephone numbers, flight numbers etc. It is essential to parents that they are made aware of where their child is going on holiday in case of an emergency.

If you are unable to reach agreement with the other parent then you should consult with a specialist family solicitor in order to discuss the best approach for making progress.