The Easter Holidays have started and you therefore may be considering the arrangements for your children, if arrangements have not already been made for the summer holidays and beyond.
It can be difficult for separating couples to decide who their children should spend the holidays with and the period of time which should be spent with each parent. Understandably, each parent wants to spend time with their children and possibly take them on trips.
We receive lots of enquiries from parents facing difficulties with agreeing arrangements over the school holidays.
What should be considered when making arrangements for your children?
If you already have an existing Child Arrangements Order which sets out what the arrangements should be for the school holidays, then those arrangements need to be adhered to. If not, the order will have been breached and there is potential for the other parent to seek enforcement which can include financial penalties.
Where there is no court order, then it is for both parents to try to come to an agreement for the arrangements over the school holidays. It is good to take into consideration the usual arrangements which happen for the children e.g if you have only been separated for a short period of time or how long the holidays are to allow both parents to see their children for a reasonable period. Another consideration is also whether the children already have anything planned such as play dates with friends or trips away.
If you are finding it difficult to reach an agreement with the other parent or continued arrangements for the children, then you may benefit from some advice from one of our specialist lawyers who can assist you.
The primary consideration in all cases is the children and what is in their best interests, care should therefore be taken to ensure they are not involved in disputes between their parents.
How can mediation help?
We recommend mediation as an appropriate starting point in cases where there are disagreements about children's visitation schedules. Mediation can provide a productive way to address these issues. The Government are currently undertaking a scheme to help parents with vouchers to assist with the initial payments for mediation.
Whilst mediation and direct discussions are a good way to start the conversation you may wish to consider whether a solicitor letter should be sent setting out the terms of the proposed contact. It may be possible to negotiate arrangements through an exchange of correspondence or private arbitration. If contact still cannot be agreed the last resort is an application to Court for a Child Arrangements Order, dealing specifically with the issues of school holiday contact.
The court encourages parties to try and resolve matters without recourse to court proceedings. The court are still experiencing an impact as a result of Covid19 and therefore it can be difficult to secure hearing times. Urgent applications will be dealt with where the court consider it necessary, but parties must try and resolve their differences where possible through other avenues.
How can we help?
If you require any help and advice, then please contact our specialist Family Team who will be able to assist you.