Planning for the school holidays

Separated couple talking over holiday childcare with child crouching by the suitcase

The school holiday season can be stressful enough for separated parents. In this article, we will discuss how to best plan for the holiday.

Every year our family law solicitors advise parents who are facing difficult questions around the holiday periods following separation. For a lot of families, issues centre around deciding with whom the children will spend their time and if there are any issues on where the other parent is taking them if they were going away.

Our advice to parents is:

Plan ahead where possible

Most families adjust to life after separation with children spending time during the summer holidays with both parents. If handled sensitively, children adjust quickly and look forward to the opportunity to share their holidays with both parts of their family.

Usually, it is the parents who find adjusting to new arrangements over the holiday time difficult. To make such decisions easier, the key is to plan ahead and not leave difficult decisions to the last minute.  

Consider the bigger picture

The aim is to be able to co-parent over the holiday periods and in such a way that your child will understand that both parents love them and want to spend positive periods of time with them. However, we understand that separation can be a bumpy road, and it’s easier for some to achieve this than others.

Talk to each other

If there are no welfare issues and you are struggling to reach an agreement with your co-parent about sharing the school holidays, it is usually quicker and cheaper to use a mediator rather than going to court. They will arrange a meeting with your former partner to agree how childcare over the holidays will be split. Communication is key: airing your thoughts normally pays off, allowing you to negotiate a fair, practical custody agreement over the school holidays well in advance.

To make the school holiday period work for you, it’s a good idea to put your agreement in writing. This will not only help with organisation, but it will help you both keep track of what’s been agreed when you’re making bookings or holiday arrangements again in the future.

Set out a Parenting Plan

There doesn’t have to be a formal process if you can both agree easily which will allow you to tailor the plan to suit both parents. If you’re looking for a good place to start, though, try using this free Parenting Plan template from the Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service (CAFCASS).

Remember your parental responsibility obligations if going abroad

You must have the express permission of everyone with parental responsibility before taking a child outside of England and Wales. Taking a child abroad without permission of the court or everyone with parental responsibility is child abduction.

Some international borders require sight of a written permission letter from the other coparent and might ask to see this or other evidence of this consent before allowing you to travel. Therefore, to avoid delays, make arrangements in advance of travel for the handing over of passports and permission letters (we would suggest that this letter includes the other parent’s contact details and details about the trip).

Call our specialist solicitors on 0808 231 1320

If you are struggling to agree on plans this year – or any other time of year– try speaking to a neutral third party or mediator to help you plan ahead as much as possible. Clare Pilsworth is a mediator in our Cambridge office, and she would be happy to have a discussion with you and your co-parent about making the most of the festive period this year.

Chat to the Author, Francesca Skakel

Solicitor - Families and Divorce, Cambridge office

Meet Francesca
Francesca Skakel, trainee family law specialist in Bishops Stortford
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