With the summer holidays just around the corner, we consider the different types of child arrangements that can be put in place and set out some additional points to consider.
There is the potential for conflict when there is a change from the usual day to day routine so it is best to reach an agreement over the division of the school holidays well in advance.
How to divide school holidays and special occasions?
If you already have a Child Arrangements Order in place which sets out the arrangements for the school holidays then those arrangements should be followed. Where there is no Court Order, it is for both parents to communicate and reach an agreement for the division of the school holidays.
There are many different ways that school holidays, bank holidays, religious days, birthdays and special occasions can be divided. This article focuses on summer holidays, however it is important to note that arrangements for children are subject to the families’ individual circumstances and must always focus on the best interests of the child or children involved.
There is no typical holiday timetable for separated parents. Summer holidays are often split on a week on week off basis, meaning that the children spend a week with one parent and the next with the other and this arrangement alternates until the end of the holiday period. It is also possible to divide the summer holidays so that the children spend 1 week with each parent and then a further 2 weeks with each parent, assuming the holiday period is 6 weeks long. Where the summer holidays are shorter or longer than 6 weeks any difference will need to be considered.
We recommend that arrangements for the school holidays be agreed in advance wherever possible, particularly if one or both parents intend on booking a trip abroad and they wish to take the children with them. If you do intend on travelling abroad with your children you must discuss this with your ex-partner and get their consent. It is illegal to travel abroad without the consent of the other parent.
Other points to consider:
· It is worth checking in advance the holiday dates for your child’s school. These can vary depending on whether the school has any teacher training days for example. Once you know the start and end dates, you can discuss how contact is to be divided between you as parents and put in place firm plans for you and the children.
· Depending on the ages of your children, it can also be helpful to factor in any summer camps or clubs your children may attend and consider whether they already have anything planned such as trips away with friends.
· Often where parents have agreed the division of holiday contact, the usual term time arrangements are put on hold. Sometimes issues can arise when the holiday period has ended and when the next contact with the other parent is due. For example, if one parent has contact with the children during the final week of the summer holiday and, when usual term time contact is reinstated, they are due to spend the next weekend with the children as well, the term time contact could be switched to enable the children to spend time with the other parent.
Ultimately the arrangements for the children are for their benefit so wherever possible put aside any emotion you may feel and instead focus on putting your children’s best interests first and work together as parents. The summer holidays should be a joyful time for your children and an opportunity for them to spend quality time with both of their parents.
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.