Children on holiday with a parent, Can a father stop a mother taking a child on holiday?

With many schools now closed for the February half-term break, those parents with children of school age may well have already made plans to go abroad on holiday or will be thinking ahead about making such plans to go abroad later, say for Easter or in the summer. 

For many parents who might then also be separated, the sharing of holiday time can be an issue, so for example, can a father stop a mother taking a child on holiday?

Can a father stop a mother taking a child on holiday?

The answer, unfortunately, depends on a number of issues:

  • Are there any existing Court Orders in place relating to the child? For example, is there a Child Arrangements Order or a residence order in place stating where the child should ordinarily live?
  • Does any Court Order say what the parent can and cannot do in relation to the child? For example, does it provide already for what should happen in school holiday periods, or does it state what the parent is allowed to do in relation to family time already?
  • Is the holiday abroad, if so, where and for how long or is the plan to take the child on holiday in the UK, if so, again for how long? 
  • If relevant, who else will be accompanying the child on holiday (sometimes the objection to a holiday is more about the parent taking their new partner on holiday as well and with their children)?
  • Will the proposed holiday impact on any family time plan already in place and agreed upon? If so, has the parent proposing to go on holiday suggested what other contact then should take place in the alternative to that lost?
  • If the proposed holiday is abroad, are there any child abduction concerns and if so, what grounds are they based on?
  • Has there been previous times or occasions when the parent has withheld contact just before or after a holiday?
  • Would the proposed holiday interfere with schooling? For example, would the holiday plan require a child to miss school for any period?

Most children will look forward to going on holiday, but for adults, a holiday plan may cause anxiety, especially if arrangements are not agreed. 

If a parent with parental responsibility has legitimate concerns about a holiday plan, then a parent can stop the other parent from taking a child on holiday. To do so, an application to the Family Court must be made and asking a judge to consider making a Prohibited Steps Order to stop the holiday from going ahead.

If you plan on going on holiday abroad or even to have a staycation in the UK, it is best to make any contemplated plans to go on a holiday known about at the earliest opportunity. This way, any concerns that the other parent might have can be made known, and solutions and compromises found to address the concern, so as to hopefully then allow the holiday to take place without any problem.

As with most child arrangements, communication is key, sharing of information timely vital. However, if despite having reached out and having made the holiday known about before it takes place, then to avoid any issues nearer the time, getting help well in advance of any travel arrangements is best advised.

If you require further information or would like to make an appointment, please contact David Banks, Solicitor, on 0191 269 6871 or email [email protected] for immediate legal advice and help.

In certain cases, we are able to offer legal aid help and assistance subject to criteria administered by the Legal Aid Agency. For more information as to eligibility, please refer to


This article is for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. It is recommended that specific professional advice is sought before acting on any of the information given.