At holiday time, some families might be packing their bags, checking tickets and passports, and getting ready for a trip.
For parents who are separated or divorced, this can also involve checking the legal position regarding taking your children on a break, either at home or abroad.
For those planning a ‘staycation’, the position is generally quite straightforward. Provided there is no agreement to the contrary, and so long as it won’t affect contact arrangements with the other parent, you can take your children on holiday without the other parent’s permission. It’s generally good practice to advise the other party of your plans, but there is no legal requirement for consent.
The same is not true, however, of holidays abroad – in these cases, you must obtain the consent of the other parent. Some parents sign an agreement which will include consenting to holidays abroad, in which case you do not need to obtain consent again, although you may need to liaise with each other about the details of the holiday. Such an agreement may specify which holidays the children will spend with each parent, and will usually include limits on the number of weeks that the children can spend abroad with either every year.
If you would like to take your children on a holiday abroad, but the other parent refuses to provide their consent, you can instead seek permission from the court. Similarly, if you become aware that the other parent intends to take the children abroad and you have not given your consent, you can ask a court to make an order preventing them from doing so. In general, the courts are in favour of children enjoying foreign holidays with their parents, but they may consider it appropriate in certain circumstances to restrict the length of the trip, or indeed to refuse permission altogether.
In all cases, the primary concern should be the best interests of the children. If you are in any doubt, or have concerns about your own holiday plans or those of the other parent, you should take advice as soon as possible in order to try and resolve matters.
Turcan Connell would be happy to provide such advice.