With the school summer holidays fast approaching, many parents are considering their holiday plans and childcare for their children to cover the 6 week break from school. Finalising these arrangements can be quite a task for families and for separated parents, this process can present additional difficulties.
When parents first separate, often the initial focus is on agreeing day to day term-time arrangements. However, our recommendation would be to discuss school holiday arrangements at the outset. If you and the other parent have already agreed term-time arrangements and tend to deal with school holidays as they come around, our top tip would be to discuss these at the beginning of the academic school year. A calendar and a copy of the school holiday dates are useful tools when sitting down to discuss these arrangements.
Many parents also find it helpful to agree to a set pattern for the school holidays and either replicate this each year or alternate the pattern. For example, you might agree that one parent will have the children for the first week of the Easter holidays with the other having the children the second week. This pattern can then simply be replicated the following year or alternated so that the parent who had the children during first week, has them the second week the following year and vice versa. If it suits, a similar pattern could also be agreed for the summer holidays, with each parent having the children for a week at a time or longer if that works for both parents and the children.
If you are working parents it can also be helpful to discuss any additional childcare arrangements that might be required during the school holidays such as booking holiday clubs and agreeing how the cost will be met to avoid any confusion or disagreement later.
If you like to holiday abroad, thinking about your proposed trip sooner rather than later will also be important. Unless you have a Child Arrangements Order from the Court which specifies that the children are to live with you, you will require the permission of the other parent with parental responsibility to take the children out of the country for a holiday. You should share details of your proposed trip including the destination, flight times, the length of the holiday and details of where you will be staying. Our top tip is to provide this information several months in advance, before making any bookings, and ask the other parent to confirm their agreement in writing, such as by text or by email. Practically, you should also check the requirements of your travel company and the country you plan to visit as a letter from the other parent may be required.
If a UK holiday is more your thing then you will not need the other parent’s permission. However, I would still recommend that you share the details of your holiday and ensure that any holiday takes place during the time that you have agreed the children will be with you.
If you and the other parent are struggling to agree arrangements for your children, attending mediation together could help or a solicitor could assist you by setting out your proposals in a letter. If the other parent is not willing to engage in discussions or attend mediation, you may need to consider making an application to the Court and should seek advice from a family solicitor so a Child Arrangements Order can be obtained setting out clearly the time the children will spend with each parent.