School holidays and child arrangements

18th July 2018

School holidays and child arrangements

With the long school summer holiday almost upon us, many parents are looking forward to some quality time away with their family.

There are, however, others who approach this time of year with more than a little trepidation.

Sioned Fitt, a Solicitor in the Family team at Higgs & Sons, said: “Arrangements for children during school holidays are never easy, and particularly so for separated or divorced parents. Each parent might want to organise a holiday away, but all too often issues can arise over when, where and even whether their holiday will materialise – especially if the parents do not see eye to eye.”

Sioned said that a common area of confusion is the question of permission, and whether separated parents need to ask each another for permission to take their child on holiday.

“The starting point, as with most questions relating to children, is whether the parents share parental responsibility. [For further information on what we mean by Parental Responsbility, click here]

“Where parental responsibility is shared, parents also share an equal duty to discuss and agree all arrangements for their child. They are on a level playing field and each should inform the other of all matters of importance concerning their child, including any holiday plans.”

Sioned added that broadly, and in the very simplest of terms, if the plan is to leave the UK for a holiday abroad, the agreement of the other parent with parental responsibility is required.

However, it is also important to note that:

  • where there is a child arrangements order in force, unless the order specifically says how holidays are to be shared, generally the parents are free to agree what special arrangements they will make for holidays
  • where there is a child arrangements order setting out that the child shall ‘live with’ one parent, that parent can take the child out of the country for up to 28 days without the consent of the other parent. However, caution must be exercised that in so doing they do not inadvertently breach any responsibilities to make the child available to spend time with the other parent. Again, unless the order explicitly states otherwise, the parents can exercise their shared parental responsibility to agree holiday arrangements
  • where there is a dispute regarding consent to holidays abroad, with or without a child arrangements order in place, the starting point should always be to try and resolve matters amicably amongst themselves.

Sioned concludes: “While in the most intractable of disputes a remedy can be found by making an application to the court for permission to take a child abroad for a holiday, mediation and other methods of non-court dispute resolution are also useful tools at parents’ disposal to help them try to reach a common ground.”

Should anyone require more information about family mediation or applying for a court order then contact Higgs & Sons’ Family team on 0345 111 5050.


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