Holidays are a wonderful way to bond with your children away from the stresses of everyday life, so many divorced parents like to take their child or children abroad on holiday to spend some quality time together.

If you’re newly separated or thinking about embarking on your first holiday with your children, you may have considered what permissions are needed from the other parent in order to take your child out of the country for a little while. This blog post will explore whether a mother can take a child out of the country without a father’s permission and vice versa, plus what the requirements for grandparents are when it comes to ensuring that the right permissions are in place.  

Can a mother take a child abroad without the father’s permission?

The short answer, generally speaking, is no, they can’t. If there are no special permissions or restrictions in place against the father and joint parental responsibility is exercised, then written consent is a requirement the mother must gain from the father in order to take the child abroad, especially if planned for a longer period of time. If permission is not sought where required, the father is able to apply for a Prohibited Steps Order which may stop the child from travelling abroad.

If a mother has sole parental responsibility for the child or a child arrangement order then they do not need to seek the permission of the father to take them abroad, as long as they’re not going for more than 28 days.

Who checks that permission has been granted?

Airports will usually check that sufficient permission has been granted, so it’s important to ensure that any evidence of approval is strong enough to appease the airport staff. Evidence such as a letter providing the details of the other parent, contact numbers and explicit permission to take the child on the particular trip in question would be deemed suitable, whereas you may find something such as a text message is not sufficient enough proof to take the child out of the country.

Having proper evidence of permission to take the child abroad is even more important where surnames differ between parent and child, and you may wish to bring along the child’s birth certificate to clearly demonstrate the relationship with the child.

Can a father take a child abroad without the mother’s permission?

For fathers looking to take their child abroad, the same rules apply – permission must be obtained where there is joint parental responsibility and is not strictly necessary for short stints abroad if the father has sole parental responsibility.

What if the other parent refuses permission for the child to go on holiday?

If your partner is not happy with you taking the child abroad for a period of time, you are able to go to the courts and apply for a specific court order giving permission. In these cases, the court will consider the child’s best interests and make their decision on whether they think it’s reasonable/suitable to take the child abroad. When making their decision, they are likely to consider factors such as whether they deem the child will be brought back when agreed.

What permissions do grandparents need to take their grandchild abroad?

If grandparents want to take their grandchild abroad on holiday without the parent(s), they will need permission from any parent who is listed as having parental responsibility for the child or children. As with parents taking children abroad, a text or Facebook message is highly unlikely to be enough to satisfy airport staff, meaning grandparents may wish to obtain a letter which contains the following sorts of information:

  • The full names of the parent(s) and grandparent(s).
  • Provides consent from parents that he/she/they are happy for the child(ren) to travel on holiday with the grandparents.
  • Details of the children’s full names and ages.
  • Highlights the travel period, destinations and any additional travel plans associated with the holiday.
  • Date and signature of parents.
  • Contact information for the parents, including the full address and any important contact numbers.

If you’re facing a dispute with the other parent surrounding a holiday or you’d like legal advice for your specific circumstance, it’s easy to book an appointment with one of our experienced solicitors. Simply head to our contact page to schedule a call.