This means that if you are the mother and the child lives with you, you still need the father’s consent if he has parental responsibility and if you are the father wanting to take your child on holiday abroad and the child lives with the mother, you need her consent.

If there is a court order setting out who the child lives with, that person can take the child abroad for up to 28 days without the other parent’s permission, but, the parent with whom the child does not live needs the other parent’s permission.

Usually, this is not a problem as most separated parents have the verbal consent of the other and just go ahead and organise a holiday anyway. However, you could be asked for evidence of the other parent’s consent at the border and if you have no evidence of it, there will inevitably be a delay whilst you get that evidence, by which time you will have missed your plane!

The safest way is to obtain the written consent of the other parent and take this with you. It is also a good idea to have evidence of your relationship to the child if your surname is different. This is often the case with unmarried parents where the child is registered with the father’s surname and the mother has a different surname. The birth certificate should show who the parents are.

If the other parent will not give their consent then you need a court order to allow you to take the child abroad. You need to make this application in plenty of time before the holiday – don’t leave it until the week before! 

Gail Cook and Paula Sanders are available to advise on these issues, to assist in obtaining the necessary consent and to apply for a court order if required