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How do I arrange contact with my children over the summer holidays?

9th August 2022

Although children are enjoying the school summer holidays, this time of year may cause anxiety for parents. If you have not been able to reach an agreement with your ex-partner over what contact you will be having with your children over the summer holidays you may feel uneasy at the thought of the weeks ahead.

If there are no Court Orders in place as to any contact arrangements there is nothing preventing the other parent from withholding contact.

The departure from term time routine can make it difficult for parents to come to a decision particularly when both parents have trips away planned.

Here we provide some useful tips on how to best prepare to avoid disagreements over contact in the summer holidays.

  1. Plan arrangements in advance

Try to come to an agreement well in advance of each school holiday if possible using the school calendar at the beginning of a new school year.

Talking to one another about your plans may also assist you with planning trips away with your children in the holidays. Whilst you do not need the consent of your ex-partner to take the children on holiday within England and Wales, you should aim to keep one another informed. If you are planning to take the children abroad, regardless of the duration, consent from the other parent is required.

It is a risk to book a holiday abroad with your child unless your ex-partner has given official consent. This can be verbal consent however it is advisable to get written consent in case there are any disputes regarding this at a later stage. It is sensible to take the written evidence of consent with you to the airport in case questions are asked regarding consent, particularly if your child does not share your surname. We can also assist with a change of name deed. If you take your child abroad without consent this would be classed as child abduction.

  1. Flexibility

During term time it is easier to stick to a schedule of contact around the times that the children attend school or extra-curricular activities. Outside of term time it may be difficult to plan a fixed schedule of contact due to the parents’ work or other commitments.  In order to remain amicable and ensure that contact goes ahead without any fall outs you should remain flexible in the event that a plan changes at the last minute or an activity comes up that means that previous arrangements may need to change. Both parties should try to agree to changes to contact unless there is a very good reason not to. Bear in mind that it may be you that needs the flexibility another time.

  1. The children’s best interests

It is in the child’s best interest to have contact with both parents, where possible. It can however be difficult to put your feelings to one side if you are no longer on speaking terms with your ex-partner. This can have a major impact on agreeing child contact arrangements. During discussions regarding contact always ensure that you are referring back to what would be in the children’s best interest and that you are being fair.

  1. No hope of reaching an agreement?

If you are unable to agree to contact arrangements or your partner refuses to give you consent to take your child abroad on holiday you have the following options

  • Mediation
  • Negotiation through solicitors
  • Apply to the Court for an Order. This could be in the form of a prohibited steps order, specific issue order or child arrangements order.

An application to court should be the last resort. Court proceedings can be costly and lengthy and an application would need to be made well in advance of the contact/holiday taking place in order to give the Court time to list the matter and come to a decision.

If the court grant a Child Arrangements Order this will clearly set out what contact should take place over the holidays now and in the future

If you are a parent and you are concerned about holiday arrangements with your child, you should seek specialist legal advice from an experienced family solicitor.

For advice on any family law matter contact Jessica Dickens, family law solicitor on 01543 211 933 or email jdickens@ansonssolicitors.com

 

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