Back from the holidays: domestic child abduction and the law

Child on planeseat playing with blackboard

Foreign holidays are something we all normally look forward to. However, they can also be a cause for concern for single or divorced parents if your child or children are going abroad with your ex-spouse or partner.


Can a parent abduct their own child?

In law, a child is classed as abducted if they are taken or sent out of the country by anyone connected to them, without gaining permission from the relevant parties who have parental responsibility. So, in order to legally remove any child from the country, whether for a holiday or family visit, consent must be gained from anyone with parental responsibility, including a parent, guardian, someone with a relevant court order, or the courts.

There are some exceptions to this rule if there is a court order is in place.

  • A Child Arrangements Order gives details of the person that the child lives with and with whom they have contact. If a person has this order in place, they are permitted to take the child out of the UK for a maximum of 28 days without obtaining any other consent.
  • A Special Guardianship Order outlines the details of a person that a child lives with, if that person is not a parent. They are given higher parental responsibility than any other person, and can take a child out of the country for a maximum of three months without obtaining permission from another party.


If you have any concerns about your children being taken abroad during the holidays, contact us here at LGFL Ltd today.

Even gaining permission from a cooperative co-parent takes time when there’s school sports days to cheer at and summer family weddings to attend! Equally, court orders so take time to apply for and to obtain. With the summer holidays just weeks away, now is the time to act.

Granting permission to take a child out of the country

If you have concerns, you are under no obligation to give permission for an ex-partner to take children on holiday. If the two parties with parental responsibility cannot agree, the parent wishing to go away with the children needs to obtain permission from the court first. If you as a parent still feel there is a risk that your child or children might be taken abroad without consent, you can apply for a court order. A Prohibited Steps Order will prevent a child being taken overseas, while a Specific Issue Order is designed to settle any disputes.


Steps to take if you think your child is at risk

If the risk of abduction is imminent, there are further steps you can take, so do call us. As family law specialists, we are fully equipped to give you all the advice and help needed to ensure you can relax this summer, knowing that an enjoyable holiday for the kids (and a relaxing break for you) will be just that!