Holidays and children arrangements
The festive period is the time of the year that separated parents will want to ensure that they will spend as much time possible with their children, without unnecessary bitter disputes that will only place more stress on the children.
If after your separation you have reached an agreement, then provisions will have been made with regards to the time that each parent can spend with the children. The agreement will hopefully have set out exactly which days the children are to be in your care, sometimes it will even set out until what time, if you wish for the children to spend the Christmas day or New Year’s Eve with both parents, for example.
What happens though when no such agreement is in place?
Whilst there is no set formula or law to specify or stipulate how much time or which day the children are to spend with each parent, here is some guidance to help you to work towards an amicable agreement.
1. Ensure that proper arrangements will be in place - Holiday periods are busy for every parent. It will be to all parties’ benefit if you plan ahead a schedule that will suit both parents and the children, especially if you are planning to travel abroad.
2. Communicate your intentions - it is of paramount importance to ensure that you have spoken with your ex-partner about your plans. Sometimes it might be difficult to approach each other directly but is always advisable to try and have an open conversation about your plans so that you are not faced with any last-minute unwelcome surprises (ie the other parent does not allow you to travel with the children and maybe does not hand over the passports). If you are struggling with direct communication, then written communication via a text or email is always an alternative. If, despite your efforts, you receive no reply or cannot agree, your solicitor can be instructed to write setting out your proposals.
3. Have the children’s need as priority - It is often the case in the children arrangements that the focus of the parties is drifted from the children to their in-between differences. Both parents will need to try their best to prioritise the needs of the children so that they spend the holidays with the least disturbance possible without feeling torn between their parents’ dispute. The court will also put the children’s needs first and will try to ensure that appropriate measures will be in place for their wishes and feelings to be put first.
What can I do if an agreement still cannot be reached?
1. Consult a family law solicitor - if all efforts have been exhausted and you find yourself worrying about the holiday arrangements then take legal advice from an expert who will be able to provide you with guidance on the next steps and your alternative options. A letter will need to be sent out to put forward your suggestions.
2. Mediation - an independence mediator can be instructed to assist with reaching an agreement. If mediation is successful, then a memorandum of understanding will be provided which will detail the main points of the agreement. If you are unsure on whether the other party will adhere to the agreement, then you solicitor can be instructed to translate this agreement to a consent order which will be lodged with the court with the judge’s approval.
3. If mediation fails, then as a last resort an application will need to be made to the court to bring the matter in front of a judge. Although court applications should be considered as a last option, if the other party will not respond to your or your solicitor’s correspondence then your only remedy will be to initiate court proceedings.
The holidays are fast approaching so you need to bear in mind that regardless of the legal route, sufficient time will need be provided to other side to respond to your correspondence. If an application needs to be made to the court, then the earlier the application is being made the more likely for the hearing to be listed prior to the holiday period.
Take steps now to ensure a peaceful holiday.
Please contact us today for further advice and assistance with your child arrangements. firstname.lastname@example.org or telephone 02089747490.