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Taking Children Out of England & Wales

Glanvilles understands how difficult and stressful it can be to sort out arrangements for children. We have many years of experience in dealing with children issues across both private law and public law.

When a couple separates, gets divorced, or dissolves their civil partnership, they will need to make decisions about where their children live or have a Court make these decisions for them. A common point of contention can be around taking children abroad or to another part of the UK, either temporarily or permanently.

If you’re looking to take your child out of the UK or your ex-partner is attempting to do so, our family law solicitors can offer various forms of support, including:

  • Legal advice on taking your child out of the UK or opposing an ex-partner’s attempt to do so
  • Building your case based on the facts, legalities, and what’s best for your child
  • Mediation processes to reach an agreement with your ex-partner
  • Support throughout Court proceedings if necessary
  • Assistance in cases of child abduction (where an ex-partner has or is threatening to illegally move a child out of the UK).

Get in touch with our family law solicitors in Chichester, Fareham and Havant

Contact our expert family law solicitors in ChichesterFareham or Havant or fill in our simple online enquiry form for a quick response.

The rules on taking children out of England & Wales

Taking children on holiday abroad

You cannot take your child (under the age of 16) out of England and Wales without the consent of all others who have Parental Responsibility for your child or an order of the Court. To do so may be a criminal offence under the Child Abduction Act 1984.

You should always discuss holiday plans involving your children with the other parent and provide details including destination, travel plans and emergency contact details. If they do not agree to a reasonable request for a holiday, then an application can be made by you to the Court. This application may succeed as long as it is reasonable and, in your child's best interest.

Taking children abroad permanently

If you wish to move abroad with your child, the consent of the other parent with Parental Responsibility will be required. Even if the other parent does not have Parental Responsibility, there should be consultation and agreement. This will enable proper plans to be put in place regarding your child's relationship with the other parent and will prevent any last minute disruption to the move.

If the other parent objects to your child moving abroad, you will have to make an application to the Court. The Court will have to decide the matter. In doing so, they will take into account:

  • The welfare of your child as a priority
  • Your proposals about your move abroad. The Court needs to be satisfied that there is a genuine need for the move and that it is not the intention to bring contact between your child and the other parent to an end
  • The effect of a Court refusing a move abroad on you and your child
  • The effect upon your child of reduced contact with the other parent and perhaps his or her family
  • The opportunity for continuing contact between your child and the parent left behind.

There is no presumption that you will be given permission to take your child with you to move abroad, but great importance will be attached to how carefully your plans have been thought out and the motivation behind them. The Court will consider each application on its individual merits.

Taking children out of England or Wales if you have a Residence Order

If a Residence Order is in force, then the parent in whose favour the Residence Order is made may take the child out of the UK for up to 28 days without consent. However, they should still notify the other parent of their plans as a matter of courtesy.

Child abduction

If a parent takes a child out of the UK without legal permission to do so, this is known as child abduction. If your ex-partner has removed your child from the UK without gaining the permission they need or is threatening to do so, it is vital that you contact a family law solicitor immediately to support you.

Equally, if you have mistakenly broken the rules in relation to taking your child out of the UK, we can provide legal advice to help you resolve matters.

How we handle disputes over taking children out of England and Wales

Legal advice

Whether you’re looking to relocate abroad with your child or your ex-partner wants to take your child out of the UK, we can offer legal advice that’s tailored to your situation. If you are facing either of these predicaments, the sooner you get legal advice, the better.

We appreciate how stressful these circumstances can be and can ensure you’ll feel the full benefits of our empathetic and practical approach and our extensive experience in such matters.

Building your case

Our family law solicitors can support you in building your case and compare your legal standing against your ex-partners. We will ensure that you are made aware of your legal rights, and those of your ex-spouses so that you know what to expect as we proceed.

At Glanvilles, we will address your concerns at every turn and support you in considering what’s in your child’s best interests. Our lawyers can answer any immediate queries you have, so please don’t hesitate to get in touch.


When making child living arrangements, it’s often beneficial to have discussions with your ex-partner with the support of a trained mediator. Our legal team at Glanvilles can support you throughout these processes and educate you on what to expect throughout.

Court representation

If you and your partner are unable to reach an agreement through mediation processes, you will need to go through Court proceedings. At this stage, our child law solicitors can represent you and ensure that you have assistance with all relevant processes.

The parent who wishes to take the child abroad will be required to make a relocation application, and the parent who opposes the decision has the right and opportunity to oppose it.

The Glanvilles guide to taking children out of England and Wales

Can I take my child out of the UK without their fathers’ permission?

If the child resides with the mother by Court order, the mother may take the child abroad for a period of 28 days without first gaining permission from their father.

Regardless, it is advisable to keep those with parental responsibility informed when taking a child out of the country in situations where it is appropriate and safe to do so.

Can my ex stop me from taking my child abroad?

Whether or not your ex can stop you from taking your child abroad depends on the situation. If you are looking to take your child abroad and your ex has parental responsibility for your child, then you will need to obtain permission in some cases.

You will not need permission to take them abroad for under 28 days if you have a child arrangement order which states that your child lives with you. Unless you have a court order to this effect, you will need permission.

Taking your child abroad for a period of over 28 days will require permission from your ex-partner (if they have parental responsibility for the child).

Can a father stop a mother from moving from the UK?

Where a father has parental responsibility, the mother will need to obtain permission from the father before moving away from the UK with a child. If a father wishes to prevent the mother from doing so, they may refuse to agree with the decision. Under these circumstances, the mother will need to make an application to the Court.

If the Court does not believe that it is in the child’s best interests to be taken out of the UK, they may not grant the mother permission to relocate with the child.

Can my ex take my child out of school without my permission?

If your ex-partner has a child arrangement order which states that your child resides with them, then they are permitted to take your child out of school to go on holiday for a period of up to 28 days. In this situation, they are legally entitled to do so.

If your ex-partner does not possess such an order, they will need to gain your permission before taking your child out of school to leave the UK.

Can my ex take my child on holiday without my permission?

Your ex will be able to take your child on holiday without your permission if the child permanently lives with them, as indicated via a Court order. If not, they must obtain permission from all parties who have parental responsibility.

Why choose Glanvilles’ child law solicitors?

Our child law experts can offer:

  • In-depth experience across a range of issues, including taking children out of England and Wales
  • Law Society accreditation in Family Law Advanced, so you can rely on our expertise in these challenging matters
  • A sensible and sensitive approach designed to protect your children’s best interests and your rights as their parent
  • Firm representation if more robust action is needed to protect your children and your relationship with them

The Glanvilles’ client service promise

When you use our legal services, we promise:

  • Our staff will be friendly, respectful and attentive
  • Your concerns will be listened to, your questions answered, and your options explained in plain English
  • The cost of dealing with your requirements will be made clear to you from the outset
  • We will answer your phone calls and emails promptly
  • We will keep you regularly updated at all times

Get in touch with our solicitors and family lawyers in Chichester, Fareham and Havant

You can contact your local Glanvilles' office in ChichesterFarehamHavant or Petworth or use the contact form, and we will get back to you quickly.