Making Holiday Arrangements for Children as Separated Parents

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While separated couples who have children may have the same end goal of wanting to spend quality time with their children, many may clash over what specific arrangements should be put in place. That’s particularly true during the summer holidays, when children are off school for 6 weeks and both parents want to make the most of this opportunity to spend quality time with their children.

We appreciate that this can be difficult, however there are some options available which may be helpful to you and your former partner, such as mediation and arbitration.

Additionally, we’ve outlined some tips below which we hope may assist in the process of making holiday arrangements for your children with your former partner.

Children jumping in pool

Reducing Conflict

Simply wanting to spend more or less time with your child than your former partner is comfortable with is just one potential source of conflict. For instance, it may be the case that due to work commitments you can’t have your child or children with you as often as the other parent demands.

If possible, try to come to a mutual understanding with your former partner to work with them over the summer holidays in order to split the childcare and spend quality time with them this summer.

Planning ahead can also help to alleviate some of the stress that may come with parenting over the summer holidays. Phoning up your former partner and asking to see your children on an ad-hoc basis may work for you but it could be highly inconvenient for them. Likewise, having the kids dropped off on your doorstep at 8am on a Monday morning may be highly inconvenient for you, especially if you start work at 9am for example.

Whether you plan 4 weeks ahead or at the end of each week you have a chat with the other parent, preparing a timetable that is convenient for both of you is vital to avoid mishaps, conflict and misunderstandings. Even more importantly, it provides the child with a structure to operate within day to day as they know where they’re going to be every day during the holidays. This is particularly important during the summer holidays for children as they will have lost the structure of attending at school during the week which may cause them to feel uncertain and less stable.

If you’ve been able to work with your former partner and come to arrangements for your children over the summer holidays, it’s important to share these arrangements with your children as much as possible. Communication in any family structure is key to everyone being on the same page and feeling more secure, especially during the summer holidays.

Working with the best interests of your child in mind may also help to improve the working relationship between you and the other parent in the long term. We do appreciate however that while you may be able to reach an agreement with your former partner on some issues, others may be more difficult. Our Family and Child Law Solicitors can help you balance any conflicting interests and points of view to enable you to put together a timetable that works for everyone involved.

Planning a Trip

If your child is old enough to contribute to the planning of their own summer holiday with each parent, they should be involved in the planning process itself if they want to be. Knowing where they'll be and who it's with will help alleviate some of the stress from the separation and still make them feel involved in the family. Being able to contribute to those plans and have their own say will only enhance this feeling for them as they grow older.

However, this doesn’t mean that you should be spontaneous and hasty when booking a holiday just because your child may suggest it or you may see a last-minute deal, for example. You shouldn’t be hasty if you’re thinking of taking your child on holiday abroad this summer as there are certain consequences to taking your child abroad last minute without many plans when you share parenting with your former partner.

One example of this is, although you have Parental Responsibility, this doesn’t mean that you can just take your child out of the UK without the other parent’s permission. After all, you should consider how you would feel if your former partner was to do the same thing without consulting you or without you consenting to this.

Understandably, parents will naturally worry about their children and will want to know where they’re going, where they’ll be staying, what they’ll be doing and how long they’re going to be away for.

If you do travel without the permission of the other parent with Parental Responsibility, you may be accused of child abduction. All mothers and most fathers have legal rights and responsibilities as a parent. A mother automatically has parental responsibility for her child from birth. A father usually has parental responsibility if he’s either married or was married to the child’s mother or listed on the birth certificate. You can apply for parental responsibility if you do not automatically have it. 

If you have parental responsibility for a child but you do not live with them, it does not mean you have a right to spend time with your children. However, the other parent must include you when making important decisions about their lives , according to the Children Act 1989.

As such, you should give the other parent a good amount of time to think about and agree to allowing you to take your children abroad. In the meantime, it’s a good idea not to book anything without their permission, just in case they don’t agree.

There is no law in England or Wales that dictates which parent should keep hold of their child's passport, but if you’re prevented from receiving the passport, you can apply for a Court Order to have it provided to you in good time.

Itineraries, flight plans, arrival times and departure times are also pieces of information that you should provide to the other parent, especially if they agree to you taking your child on holiday. This should provide peace of mind for everyone and reduce any animosity between you and your former partner.

Holiday in the UK

Holidays in the UK

If you are going on holiday within the UK, you don't usually need the other parent's permission. However, it’s worth obtaining it anyway, if only to build a strong co-parent relationship of trust between the two of you and to make it easier in the future if you plan on another trip.

Co-parenting doesn't have to be complicated, especially when you can work together for the best interests of the children. But if one parent is being unreasonable, you can apply to the Court to have special orders made in your favour to allow a family holiday to go ahead. One example of this is a Specific Issue Order. If this is the case, make sure that this is done well in advance of the holiday to avoid disappointment and delays.

When the Court issues a Specific Issue Order, it gives permission to the parent applying for the Order to make decisions without the permission of the other parent. A Specific Issue Order can also address other issues and make decisions about other aspects of your child’s life, including:

  • Where the child in question will go to school which will apply to both primary school and secondary school


  • If the child in question has a religious or a secular education


  • The medical treatment that the child in question will receive or does receive


  • Where the child in question will live and who the child will live with


If you’re struggling to reach an amicable solution, our Family and Child Law Solicitors can help you negotiate child living and contact arrangements. We can also suggest other suitable ways of resolving disputes, such as mediation and arbitration, and provide independent legal advice throughout the process.

Please get in touch with our team of friendly expert Family and Child Law Solicitors today by calling 0808 239 3465 or request a call back.

Our expert Family and Child Law Solicitors will be able to assess your situation and provide you with initial advice. If you then require further advice or representation, this is something that we can assist with as well to make sure that you’re supported throughout the process.

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Simpson Millar LLP. (n.d.). Family Law Solicitors. [Online] Available at: /family-law-solicitors/ (Accessed: 19/12/2023).

UK Government. (n.d.). Parental Rights and Responsibilities. [Online] Available at: (Accessed: 19/12/2023).

UK Government. (n.d.). Who Has Parental Responsibility? [Online] Available at: (Accessed: 19/12/2023).

Simpson Millar LLP. (n.d.). What is a Specific Issue Order? [Online] Available at: /family-law-solicitors/child-law-solicitors/what-is-a-specific-issue-order/ (Accessed: 19/12/2023).