For many separated or divorcing families, the summer period may be the first school holiday where everyone is living separately. Organising time with your family can become complicated and this can lead to tensions between parents and children alike.
The fundamental advice is that, wherever possible, do try to keep all arrangements for seeing the children as ‘child focused’ as possible and consider the following:
- Try to avoid asking or expecting your children to choose. If possible, consider how they would like to spend time with you both together. Some families are still able to spend some time together, whilst others are not – there is no hard and fast rule.
- Try to look at the positives for the children – they may now be living in two separate households, but this also means the opportunity to go on two holidays.
- If you are thinking of arranging a holiday for you and your children, please discuss this with your ex-partner or spouse prior to booking to ensure that there are no conflicts.
- Please remember if you expect to take your children away on holiday over the summer period this means your ex-partner or spouse may also be considering the same, so it may be positive to sit down and discuss when would be a suitable time for holidays for the children taking into account other commitments.
- If you are taking the children away on holiday, consider the logistics as passports may need to be handed over and children may need to stay with you the night before if you are catching an early flight.
- Please remember that this may also be the first time that your ex-partner or spouse is agreeing to your children going abroad without them, so they may feel anxious about this. Take this into consideration when answering any questions your ex-partner or spouse may have about the holiday and provide details about the holiday and emergency contact details.
- Consider sharing arrangements with the children via calendars/planners or (dependent on age) shared on-line calendars so as to be as clear and transparent as possible – most children will want to see that their parents are trying to get on, and this is one way of showing this and for the children to know what the plans are.
- The above point is especially important if booking in a Summer course for your children, so your ex-partner or spouse is aware of this.
- Show the children that you want them to have a relationship with the other parent and try to avoid negative comments of the other.
- Try to plan ahead and stick to arrangements – the children will be the ones most affected if arrangements are changed last-minute. Whilst all have to be flexible, do consider the impact on the children if plans need to be re-arranged.
- Be considerate – to your children, each other but also to yourselves, you will always be the children’s parents and this is part of the process of co-parenting.
- Longer term – consider a Parenting Plan – these can be looked at on-line or could be prepared via Solicitors
- Keep all options open – consider legal advice, mediation, collaborative meetings. Our Family Partner, Paul Wild, is also a trained mediator and collaborative lawyer.
If you or your ex-spouse has a new partner who may be spending some or all the time with you and the children on holiday, try to introduce them well in advance to both the children and the other partner to alleviate any concerns and be prepared to answer questions.
In some circumstances you may feel that it is inappropriate to let your ex-partner or spouse leave the jurisdiction with your child. Please seek legal advice if you have any concerns regarding this.
If you struggle over a holiday period in trying to see your children, or are simply looking for a more permanent and enforceable solution, please contact our Family Team on 0118 958 9711 or [email protected], who would be more than happy to assist you moving forward.