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Do you have authority to take your children on holiday?

For unmarried, separated or divorced parents, taking your child on holiday can require careful negotiation with the other parent, especially if you do not have parental responsibility for your child.

Having parental responsibility means that you can make decisions about where your child lives, their education, religious upbringing and medical treatment. It also means that you can apply for their passport.

Michelle Uppal, family law partner at Miles and Partners Solicitors in the City of London, explains:

“A mother automatically has parental responsibility for her child from birth. A father usually has parental responsibility if they are married to the mother or if he is named on the child’s birth certificate (if the child was born after December 2003). If a father does not automatically have parental responsibility, it can be obtained by signing an agreement with the mother or applying to the court for an order.”

If both parents have parental responsibility and there is no child arrangements order or any other restrictions in place, if you wish to take your child on holiday you should obtain the consent of the other parent. If an agreement cannot be reached then you may need to consult a solicitor for advice. Your solicitor will discuss the best approach, including using mediation or collaborative law to resolve the issue. In some circumstances you may need to apply to the court for permission to take your child on holiday.

If you apply to the court, the judge will consider factors such as the purpose, place and proposed duration of the holiday. The court will expect you to provide the other parent with full details of your holiday plans, including flight times and numbers, the address and telephone number of where you will be staying and also a contact number for you while you are away.

A parent with a child arrangements order can take a child on holiday outside England and Wales for up to one month without the written consent of the other parent. However, it is still advisable to endeavour to agree the arrangements in advance.

Click here to find out more about the process of applying for a child arrangements order.

For more information about parental responsibility and arrangements for children, contact Michelle Uppal at

The contents of this article are for the purposes of general awareness only. They do not purport to constitute legal or professional advice. The law may have changed since this article was published. Readers should not act on the basis of the information included and should take appropriate professional advice upon their own particular circumstances.