As we emerge from the Pandemic, many of us are looking forward to being able to travel again. Whilst Covid-19 related travel restrictions may complicate holidays for the foreseeable future, one other thing separated or divorced parents need to consider is whether both parents are required to consent to a holiday.

In Scotland the legal position is regulated by the Children (Scotland) Act 1995.  This states that no person can take a child (who  lives in Scotland) out of the United Kingdom without the consent of both parents, (who have parental rights and responsibilities in respect of the child).

If you do not consent to a foreign holiday that the other parent is proposing – you can withhold your consent, and if it has already been provided, withdraw  your consent. It is important to make it known, in writing, that you do not consent and your  reasons why.

The issue of holidays abroad can be a contentious, especially when parents are struggling to cooperate, and if the parent wishing to take a child abroad is not in possession of the passport. In this circumstance, the court can be asked to grant an Order known as a “Specific Issue Order”, where  the court is asked to decide if the child can travel abroad.  An Order requiring the handing over of the passport should also be sought. Court hearings for these types of  matters take time to organise,  so it is important to plan ahead. It is generally accepted that a court will be reluctant to prevent a child from holidaying abroad with their parent,  but the other parent may well have reasonable concerns and oppose this.  As the court’s key responsibility is the child’s welfare, before deciding if the holiday should be allowed,  the court will consider these types of questions:-

  • Is it in their best interests to go on holiday?
  • Is there a risk that parent taking them on holiday, won’t return them?
  • Is the location and  length of the holiday appropriate for the child’s age?

It is worth bearing in mind that consent is not required to take a child on holiday within the United Kingdom. Whilst it is always preferable for parents to reach agreement on these sorts of matters, sometimes it  is not possible.

If you are struggling to reach agreement or would like advice regarding this matter, please do not hesitate to contact a member of the Family Law team at

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