Santa, sunshine and skiing: Christmas holidays abroad and parental permissions
Christmas is approaching fast, and for separated or divorced parents, it’s important to start planning where the kids will spend the holidays as soon as possible. In the first of two articles on child arrangements over the Christmas period, Director Rita Gupta looks at the need to get permission in writing to take the kids abroad this winter.
Holidays are coming fast
Whilst most “Christmas countdowns” work towards the day itself, schools break up a week or more before. So, parents need to plan for at least 16 days of holidays with the kids.
End of autumn term 2023
- Hampshire schools: Friday 15th December
- Surrey schools: Friday 15th December
- Berkshire: Wednesday 20th December
- Private schools: week starting Monday 11th December
Skiing holidays, winter sun and families abroad 2023/24
Are you holding back to book your Christmas skiing or winter sun holidays with the children or equally looking to go and spend the holiday season with family abroad? Before making any arrangements, as a divorced or separated parent you should consider permissions and the response of the other party.
In particular, given how special and emotive a time Christmas is, consider the impact on children and your co-parenting relationship if you propose to take them away during this time.
Taking children overseas
In order to take a holiday abroad as a co-parent, you must have permission from everyone who has parental responsibility for each child. The Gov website makes it very clear that “Taking a child abroad without permission is child abduction.”
- If you have a Child Arrangement Order stating that the children live with you, you are able to remove them from the country without permission for a period of less than one month.
- If you do not have a Child Arrangement Order and need to gain permission, LGFL can help by writing correspondence to reach arrangements between all those with parental responsibility.
If you wish to take your children overseas for more than a month for any reason, including a holiday or to visit relatives, you will always need permission in writing from anyone with parental responsibility. This should be printed and signed, as you may have to show this at the UK or other international borders.
Why you need permission in writing
It is always best to ensure that there can be no room for miscommunication, or in some extreme cases, that another parent denies having given their permission. LGFL Director Rita had a case where this happened, resulting in a huge amount of distress and wasted legal costs that were incurred in her dealing with the matter urgently.
Your letter of permission should include:
- Name and contact details for the person giving permission
- Full details of your trip including hotel address/es, flights, train times, etc
- Details of any planned activities that might require co-parental permission, such as sledding, scuba diving, etc
You may also wish to take evidence of your relationship with each child, such as a birth certificate, and your divorce certificate if your surname differs from the child’s.
Child arrangement letters: get the beach/snow ball rolling
To get your child arrangements sorted in good time, call us to discuss your situation and get the beach/snow ball rolling:
- Call us
- Email us
Getting permission from your ex-partner or spouse
For many separated parents, booking the actual holiday is the easy part. According to a UK travel company:
- • 70% of travellers research travel on their smartphone.
- 72% of mobile bookings happen within 48 hours of last-minute Google searches.
However, getting permission from your ex can be fraught with difficulties, especially if you are the non-resident parent.
- If you have a Child Arrangement Order stating that the children live with you, you can take them abroad without permission from the other parent for a period of less than one month.
- If you have shared parental responsibility, you must have full agreement on all aspects of the holiday.
Reasons your ex-partner might object to the holiday
There are many practical and emotional-based reasons why your ex-partner might object to even the most straightforward of winter holidays or visits to relatives abroad during the seasonal holidays.
- They may be jealous of you taking a holiday and/or the money you have to spend on it.
- They may object to missing contact hours with the children during the Christmas period.
- They may consider the holiday destination unsafe, unsuitable, or a risk to health.
- They may have concerns about the children’s safety if participating in potentially risky activities such as skiing, diving, etc.
- They may have a suspicion that the travelling parent may not return the children to the UK (in extreme cases).
Parental permission letters from LGFL – how it works
We draft a formal letter containing all the details in full, so everyone can see what is involved and raise any objections. All correspondence comes through us, so there are no ‘lost’ emails, confused phone calls, or lack of a signed written agreement to show at the borders.
If you cannot agree between yourselves even with our help, you can apply for permission direct from a court. However, this can be a lengthy process, and you will still need to give details of your trip in full.
Last minute holiday bookings
Timing is key. If you want to book a holiday for this winter 2023/24, you probably need to move fast. According to ABTA research:
“Four in ten people (42%) have either booked or are considering taking a winter break this year – with escaping for some winter sun (22%) at the top of the list for those planning to travel over winter.”
Wherever and whenever you book, you need to allow time for those with shared parental responsibility to reach a formal agreement with you, preferably well before the date of departure.
For more details on preparing for holidays with your children as a divorced parent, see our blog “Still out there: Holiday child arrangements”
Taking the kids on holidays during term time
You have a legal obligation to ensure your child receives an education. Your child is only allowed to miss school if they are too ill to attend, or you have advance permission from the school. If you ask to take the children out of school for a holiday just because it's cheaper, the school may simply not grant permission.
"You have to get permission from the head teacher if you want to take your child out of school during term time. You can only do this if:
- you make an application to the head teacher in advance (as a parent the child normally lives with)
- there are exceptional circumstances
It’s up to the head teacher how many days your child can be away from school if leave is granted."
However, it appears awareness of this requirement and the possible risk of fines is very low, according to recent research by the University of Law:
- 89% of parents of school aged children are unaware that taking a child out of school during term-time could result in prosecution.
- 71% don’t know that fines can reach up to £2,500
- 16% believed that none of the genuine legal penalties presented to them were real.
Child holiday agreements with LGFL
Contact us to get your Christmas holiday permissions sorted well in advance, so you can relax and plan your packing!
- Call us
- Email us
Want to have the kids at home with you on Christmas Day ?
Check out our other articles on Christmas as a separated parent:
- How to make Christmas child arrangements following your separation (2023 edition)
- Counting the cost of divorce: Why newly separated parents may struggle to afford Christmas
- Co-parenting after separation: should you split Christmas Day?
- Christmas stress and New Year breakups: advice by Rita on BBC Radio Berkshire