Do I need to tell my ex that I am taking our child abroad?

The school summer holidays have arrived and for many of us, it is time for a much needed break. Particularly as travel restrictions, in the main, have been lifted.

However, before you start packing your sun cream and planning how to get to the airport, you need to make sure that you are legally allowed to take your child abroad.

If your ex-partner has parental responsibility and there is no court order in place, you will not be able to take your child abroad without the other parent’s consent. Verbal consent will suffice, but it is recommended that you get written consent to avoid any confusion or issues later on. Also, many countries these days are aware of the risks of child abduction. It is therefore advisable that you take a letter of consent signed by the other parent with you on your travels. The letter should include details of the holiday, your details, the other parent’s details, the children’s details and, particularly if you have a different surname to the children, a copy of the birth certificates. 

It is our advice that you get written permission well in advance of all trips planned for the year so that you are both on the same page regarding holidays and to avoid the stress of a potential last minute court applications, which is set out further below.

If there is a court order, usually called a child arrangements order, setting out that your child lives with you, you will be able to take your child out of the country for up to 28 days without getting the permission of the other parent, unless the order specifies otherwise. Although, it is strongly recommended that, as much as possible, holiday schedules are planned and agreed with the other parent as a part of healthy co-parenting, we also understand that this is not always possible.

If the other parent refuses to give permission for you to take your child abroad and there is no existing order which means you do not need their permission, then you will need to make an application to a family court for a specific issue order. In this scenario, you are asking the court to make a decision on the specific issue of whether you can take your child abroad for the specific trip. If the trip is for a reasonable period and to a safe and appropriate destination, in most cases a court will give permission. After all, it is in a child’s best interests to have a holiday.

If you do not get permission from all those who have parental responsibility and there is no existing court order which gives you permission, you risk committing child abduction, which is serious and a criminal offence.

If you are a grandparent and you wish to take your grandchild abroad, you will need written permission from all those with parental responsibility and not just the one parent.

Written by : Yanoulla Kakoulli (Senior Associate Solicitor)

If you need any further assistance with the issues raised here, please contact Yanoulla Kakoulli on 020 8290 0333 or email

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