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Guiding the separated parent through the school summer holidays

The looming school holidays can be an unwelcome source of stress for the separated parent. Generally, the usual term time parenting plan grinds to a halt and parents are left to reach holiday arrangements between themselves. Negotiations between parents can be difficult and further exacerbated by difficulties arranging time off work, timetable clashes and issues regarding holidays abroad.

Ensuring children are safeguarded from these anxieties is paramount and creating a seamless transition into the school holidays is every parent’s ideal scenario. But how can this be achieved?

Planning

Although a topic parents may wish to ‘put off’ especially if there is a fraught relationship, there is no escape that early forward planning is essential. It is best if any issues or disagreements can be settled well in advance of the school break. The usual starting point for care in the school holidays will be a 50:50 split between separated parents. The summer holidays are often split on a week on, week off basis so that children spend a week with each parent alternately. However, it is important that parents are organised and can share their timetables and commitments in advance if amendments are to be made.

Requesting consent from the other parent to take the children abroad for instance may have to be considered. Planning early will also allow sufficient time for parents to speak to specialists or lawyers regarding how to address a disagreement.

Writing

Having a written agreement may seem rather formal however having care arrangements in writing helps avoid problems occurring later down the line. This will reduce the risk of disagreement, parents changing their minds and any ambiguity.

Transparency

Transparency is key. Making the other parent aware of your plans with the children can help avoid any surprises and confusion. Parents will then have time to raise any concerns they may have and discuss ways to mitigate them. Making sure all the parties involved are happy and comfortable with the arrangements is extremely important. It is expected that if you are taking the children on holiday that you will let the other parent know the holiday details including accommodation address and flight details if applicable.

Child’s best interests

At the heart of any arrangements should be the best interests and wishes and feelings of the child. Depending on the age of the child it may be sensible to involve them in some discussion to ensure they feel listened to and are happy. It may also prove useful to provide the children with calendars outlining the arrangements so that they can feel organised and in the know.

If agreement cannot be reached

The starting point will always be for parents to negotiate between themselves directly. If difficulties arise, or the relationship is strained, it may be best to have open negotiations between solicitors or attend mediation, where a trained mediator acting as an independent third party can help the parents reach an agreement.

If these options fail, as a last resort you may consider making an application to court. This is the most costly option, can take considerably longer and most seriously, could damage relations further, however in some situations this may be necessary.

If you find yourself in a situation where you require advice, the Napthens Family Team would be more than happy to offer further guidance, so please get in touch.