Should I let my children go on holiday abroad this summer?

For most schools in England, the summer holidays begin on 22 July. Despite the government announcement on 14 June confirming the extension to the final unlocking in England by a further four weeks (19 July now being the “terminus date”), many parents will be considering whether to take their children away for a much-needed holiday abroad.

Given the current restrictions on travel outside of England, booking a summer holiday at the moment undoubtedly brings with it an added layer of complication and uncertainty. This only adds to an already potentially difficult situation facing many separated parents.

Holidays are understandably regarded as very special quality time for families. Disagreements between separated parents about holidays can arise for various reasons, including:

  • How the school holidays should be divided.
  • One parent not agreeing the proposed holiday destination (for example the country is on the “amber” list or on the “green list” with a risk of being moved to the “amber” list)
  • One parent not agreeing the duration of the holiday (for example one parent might think a two-week holiday abroad is too long to go without seeing the other parent, especially for younger children); and/or
  • One parent not being comfortable with who is going to be with them on holiday e.g. extended family members or new partners.

children on summer holiday

Covid complexities

The government’s current traffic light system means that you should not holiday in countries listed in the “red” or “amber” categories. That is essentially most countries worldwide, with a very small number of countries permitted on the “green” list (at the time of writing this is limited to: Australia, Brunei, the Falkland Islands, the Faroe Islands, Gibraltar, Iceland, Israel & Jerusalem, New Zealand, Singapore, South Georgia & South Sandwich Islands and St Helena, Ascension & Tristan da Cunha). It has been rumoured in the press that other countries that could be considered for the “green list” over the coming weeks include the Canary Islands and Majorca.

However, as was the case over the May half term with Portugal, even those “green” listed and therefore in theory “safe” countries can be moved from the “green” to “amber” list with very little notice, causing huge disruption to families who then are forced to quarantine on their return to England for ten days or cut their holiday short and cough up eye watering costs for return flights home before the restrictions come into force.

Even the best made plans between separated parents cannot perfectly plan for this unwelcome scenario and many parents will conclude that it is simply not worth the stress and hassle of booking a holiday outside of England in the first place, instead choosing holidays locally. Other parents will inevitably want to take the risk as they see the reward of two weeks abroad in the sunshine outweighing the risk.

What can be done if you and the other parent cannot agree arrangements for this summer?

If you want to take your child abroad over the summer you need to get the other parent’s consent if they have Parental Responsibility (which is usually the case), unless you have a ‘live with’ order within a child arrangements order in place (previously called having a “residence order”). If the other parent objects they will either withhold their consent or apply to the court to stop you from going.

Similarly, if you object to the other parent taking your child/children abroad then you will need to either withhold your consent or apply to the court to ask that the holiday should not be permitted.

As with all decisions involving children it is best to try and discuss and agree matters with the other parent and to make a decision that is the best interests of the children. If an agreement cannot be reached, then court proceedings might be necessary as a last resort. We recommend taking advice at an early stage if you are in any doubt about sorting out arrangements for this summer.


Please do contact:

Charlotte Prideaux 0117 3751780 Nicky Howarth 01173751783.