As a Cheshire children solicitor I get asked the question ‘can I stop my ex taking our child on holiday?’ That is understandable as most parents are anxious when their child goes off for the weekend, let alone a holiday with your ex. In this blog we answer your frequently asked questions about whether you can stop your ex taking your child on holiday.
Can I stop my ex taking our child on holiday?
Whether you can stop your ex taking your child on holiday will depend on:
- Whether there is a child custody order(also known as a residence order or a child arrangements order). If so, does the order say whether your ex can take your child on holiday? If it does, then have circumstances changed so you can apply to court to vary or change the order to stop your ex taking your child on holiday?
- Is the holiday in the UK or does your ex plan to take your child abroad? If a foreign holiday is proposed how long is the holiday for and what is the destination?
- Are there any child abduction concerns that are making you particularly concerned about the holiday? For example, is your concern that your child is being taken to see extended family outside Europe and you have read and googled that the country they are going to isn’t signed up to the Hague Convention?
Prior to talking to a children solicitor about whether you can stop your ex taking your child on holiday it is best to think about the reasons why you object to the holiday. For some parents the answer is obvious, such as you fear child abduction whereas for others it is just a gut fear or your objection to the holiday may be down to:
- The dates your ex wants to take your child on holiday – for example, do the dates clash with your Christmas, Easter or your summer holiday plans?
- Who will be accompanying your child on holiday – for example, is your ex going on holiday with his new partner and their children. Are you worried about your child spending time with the new partner or them not getting on with the other children who will be going?
- The destination of the holiday, as after all a holiday to an English Caravan Park or to European Beach holiday is very different to a trip to the Far East or middle East to meet extended family or for cultural reasons
- Do you have concerns about your ex’s drinking habits and do you worry that if you are not there, your child will be neglected whilst your ex gets drunk
- Are you angry that your ex can afford to take your child on an expensive holiday but can’t or won’t pay child support to you so you can’t afford to go on a similar trip?
There are many other reasons why you may object to your ex taking your child on holiday but sometimes it helps to make a list as there may be more than one reason why you feel so strongly about the holiday. Some of those reasons may be practical ones and others may be emotional, for example, your ex is taking his new partner and your child on holiday to the same resort you all used to go to as a family.
I have a court order so can I stop my ex taking my child on holiday?
If a mother or a father has a court order saying that the child lives with them(for example a child arrangements order) then you can:
- Stop your child going on holiday unless there is a child arrangements order in place for the other parent that covers holiday contact in the UK or overseas
- If the holiday contact in the child arrangements order doesn’t cover travel abroad then your ex won’t be able to take your child overseas on holiday unless they get your written agreement or a family court order that says they have court permission to take your child either to a specified foreign country for a holiday or a general order that says they can take the child on a foreign holiday each year.
Every children court order is phrased differently so if you are at all unsure about what your court order says and whether your ex needs your permission or a court order to take your child on holiday then speak to a Cheshire children solicitor.
Can I get a court order to stop my ex taking my child on holiday?
You can apply to court to get an order to stop your ex from taking your child on holiday. It is best to speak to a Cheshire children solicitor about whether you need to apply for an order as it will all depend on whether there are any existing court orders. If there are then it may not be necessary to make an application to court or you may need to apply to vary a court order rather than apply for a new court order.
For example, if your ex wants to take your child on holiday abroad and they don’t have a child arrangements order to say that they are the main carer the onus is on them to apply to court to get permission to take your child on a foreign holiday out of the UK unless you give your written consent to the holiday.
If you think that your ex will just take your child without bothering to apply for a court order then you can make an application to court for a specific issue or prohibited steps order prohibiting the holiday from taking place.
If your ex is your child’s main carer and they have a child arrangements order in place which says the child lives with them, then normally this order allows them to take your child on holiday abroad for up to four weeks. They therefore don’t need your permission to take your child abroad provided the holiday is for less than four weeks. However, if you object to the holiday (for example, because you fear child abduction) then you can apply to court for an order to prohibit the foreign holiday from taking place.
If your objection is to your ex taking your child on holiday in the UK then you can still apply for an order to try and stop the holiday although you would have to have good reason for the objection as generally speaking there is less opposition to a child being taken away on holiday in the UK unless, for example:
- The child is young and hasn’t had a lot of contact with the other parent and so would be anxious and fret
- The holiday is unsuitable, for example , a golf holiday where you anticipate your child will be cared for by your ex’s new partner rather than spend quality time with a parent
- Your ex wants to go away on holiday at the only time that you can take off to go away on holiday or their holiday plans will mean that you don’t get to spend time with your child over Christmas or will stop your child from going to a family wedding or other celebration
- Your ex is planning a camping holiday in the Autumn half term and your child is asthmatic or has special health needs.
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Should I object to my child going on holiday?
If a parent wants to object to their child going on holiday most people’s first thoughts are that a child should be able to enjoy a holiday with each of his or her separated parents. Whilst that is true it is also correct that if you have any concerns about your child then it is your job as a parent to protect your child and stand up for what is in their best interests.
Sometimes children don’t know what is best for them as whilst your child may be very excited about a trip to a far flung destination they won’t understand your child abduction fears and the reasons behind why you are so worried about the holiday.
A Cheshire children solicitor will normally ask you to look at the reasons why you object to your child going on a holiday in the UK or overseas and to consider whether those reasons are about you or your child. For example, if your real issue is that your ex can afford a holiday but isn’t paying child support your children solicitor can make a child support application for you. If your issue is the destination of the holiday or its length then perhaps some compromise can be made so a holiday can take place but your child is safe.
If you need help with holiday contact or need a holiday contact order then our expert team of specialist children law solicitors at Holmes Chapel and Whitefield can help you. Call us or contact us online.