Updated March 2019.
How can separated or divorced parents agree on who has the children over the Easter holidays while keeping everything civil? Sarah Evans, Partner in Coodes Solicitors’ Family Team gives her advice.
For most children, the Easter holidays mark a well-deserved two-week break from school including the long bank holiday weekend. But for parents who are separated or divorced it can mean weeks of tension, misunderstanding and conflict.
Holidays often trigger a departure from routine for families, which can cause changes to long-term arrangements between separated or divorced parents. So, what can parents do to avoid conflict?
Make holiday arrangements in advance
The sooner you start talking to your ex partner about extended holidays, the more time you will have to deal with any issues or concerns that arise.
Talk to each other about your plans
If you are planning to your children away during the break, you don’t need your partner’s consent to take your children on holiday within England and Wales, but it is common courtesy to keep them informed. If you are forthcoming with information about your trip, you are likely to meet less resistance. Remember, you are not permitted to take your children out of the country without the consent of everyone who holds parental responsibility unless you have a Child Arrangements Order stating that the child lives with you. This will allow you to take your children out of the country for up to 28 days without the other parent’s permission. If possible consent should be obtained, however, as a courtesy and to avoid any future disagreements.
School and work commitments make it easier to have a strict schedule during term time, but this can be more difficult during longer holidays from school. Work may impact on you or your ex-partner’s ability to have the children for extended periods. If you can be flexible about arrangements this may reduce any animosity between you.
Remember that it’s about the children
Ensure that you are putting your children’s best interests first and try not to let your personal feelings to affect your decisions. Extended breaks from school should be about having fun and children generally benefit from spending time with both parents, whether that’s away on holiday or at home.
What happens if parents cannot agree on holiday childcare?
If you and your ex-partner really cannot come to an agreement about your children and the holidays, there are always options. This can include mediation, where you and your ex-partner meet with a trained mediator to help focus your discussion on the main issue and guide you to an agreement or compromise.
You can also negotiate through solicitors. This will largely depend on whether your ex-partner responds and engages with the solicitors.
If no agreement can be reached by mediation or negotiation, or if the matter is urgent, it may become necessary to make an application to court to decide the outcome. The court will consider the children’s welfare and decide what is in their best interest, and the decision will be legally binding. This option should really be a last resort for separated or divorced parents and every attempt to reach an agreement should be explored.
For advice on any of these issues please contact the Family Team at Coodes Solicitors, on 0800 328 3282 or firstname.lastname@example.org