Holidays can be a difficult and sensitive time for the families of couples who have recently separated.
Many difficult emotions can be triggered, memories of previous happy family holidays, concerns about being away from the children for extended periods, or feelings of resentment about the prospect of a new partner sharing a holiday with the children.
All of these emotions can make holidays an extremely tricky issue to resolve. Conflict can also arise if parents don’t communicate with each other about holiday plans.
What does the law say about holidays abroad?
The law requires all people with parental responsibility to give consent to a holiday outside of the UK, if there is no court order in place for the children.
If there is no court order in place the best advice is to seek consent from the other parent early on. Then, if there are problems you have time to seek legal advice and act to resolve the dispute.
If a dispute arises the court can be asked to consider if the children should go on the planned holiday.
If one parent already has an order which specifies that the children live with them, then they can take the children abroad for a period of up to one month without the other parent’s consent.
However, the other parent should always be given details of the holiday plans, travel arrangements and accommodation and a means of contacting the other parent in the event of an emergency, or to speak to the children while they are away from home.
If a new partner, or other family members, are going on the holiday, then the parent staying at home should be informed of this in advance to avoid a situation in which the other parent feels misinformed.
A parent who has an order specifying that the children shall spend time with them, but not live with them, needs the other parent’s consent for a holiday abroad with the children. Full details of the holiday should be provided to the resident parent when consent is requested.
If you are unsure about your position then you should seek advice as soon as possible, before booking a holiday or incurring any non-refundable costs.
What about domestic holidays?
The above rules for foreign travel do not apply for holidays in England and Wales.
Providing the holiday does not require any changes to an existing parental contact schedule or other arrangements already agreed, then permission is not required.
If the holiday will require an amendment to the contact schedule it is important parents agree to the change. Again, communication is key and even if the travel is within the UK, details of the travel arrangements and accommodation should be provided to the other parent.