The school holidays can be an extremely difficult time for separated parents who are faced with having to come to an agreement on arrangements for how the children will share their time between them.
It may be that the separation was not amicable or that it is not always easy communicating with and coming to an agreement with your ex-partner. For this reason, we have set out some guidance, which we hope will help you during the holidays.
We recommend that you start planning child arrangements well in advance of the school holidays. Arrangements left until the last minute will most likely fail and will likely clash with your ex-partner’s plans. Put a plan together early of how you would like to share your time over the holidays and forward this to your ex-partner to consider.
When discussing arrangements with your ex-partner it is important to include full details of timings and exact locations for collections and drop offs to avoid any misunderstandings which may lead to conflict during the holidays. Under no circumstances should you rely on the children to deal with these details.
When confirming arrangements over the telephone, you should always follow up with a written message or email confirming clearly what has been agreed to avoid anything becoming misconstrued to avoid any confusion later down the line.
Never book a holiday without first contacting your ex-partner to run the dates past them to ensure that you aren’t both planning a holiday at the same time. In total, there are 13 weeks of school holidays each year, so it shouldn’t be too difficult to avoid booking a holiday at the same time. Again, anything discussed should be followed up with a written message or email to confirm what has been agreed.
When considering taking a child abroad, everyone with parental responsibility will need to give permission to enable this to happen unless one of the parents has a “Live With” Order. Even then, they will need to ensure that any missed time with the other parent is made up; and they are expected to give full flight and accommodation information.
It is important to note that failure to obtain permission to take your child abroad could potentially lead to criminal charges for abduction.
If the relationship with your ex-partner is particularly acrimonious and they are refusing to grant permission for you to take your child on holiday, then an application can be made to the Court for a Specific Issue Order, which, if granted, would allow you to remove the child from the jurisdiction for a set amount of time.
It may be that your ex is the one who is considering taking your child abroad and this may cause you to feel anxious, which is understandable. However, there would need to be a good reason to refuse such a request.
In some cases, it may be that your ex has family living abroad and you have concerns about how long the child will be away or indeed if they will be returned to you. In this instance we always recommend seeking advice from a Family Lawyer as soon as possible so that you are fully aware of your rights.
There are some countries which have specific rules about children travelling with just one parent and you should always check with the relevant Embassy or your holiday provider. However, usually it is wise to take the following documents with you:
Currently, there is no law against taking your child on holiday in England or Wales without the other parent’s consent, even if they have parental responsibility for the child. Technically Scotland and Northern Ireland have different legal systems but there is no requirement for specific agreements for children to travel there!
However, if there is a Court Order in place stating that the child should not be taken on holiday then the police/courts can assist in having the child returned home, as a Court Order for Child Arrangements is legally binding upon both parents.
To avoid any misunderstanding or conflict whilst on holiday you should always try to manage your co-parent’s expectations by agreeing when and how often the child can make/receive telephone/video calls. Sharing your holiday details such as location and itinerary with the other parent is a must and may help to alleviate any concerns for the parent that is staying at home.
Our team of dedicated Family Lawyers can assist you with all your child arrangement related matters. Give us a call today to see how we can help you.