Child contact arrangements during school holidays and special occasions
School holidays and special occasions such as Christmas are an opportunity to spend quality time with your children. However, if you are separated from the other parent, you might have difficulty coming to an agreement on child contact arrangements.
How can we agree on child contact arrangements during the holidays?
As with any child arrangement, the welfare of the child is always paramount. In spite of this, these decisions are not always straightforward to make, and there can be a lot to take into consideration.
Our expert children law solicitors recommend you consider the following:
Have you got a Child Arrangements Order in place?
A Child Arrangements Order sets out where your child lives, who they have contact with and any other arrangements concerning your child’s care. These Orders are usually put in place after parents separate and cannot reach an agreement, to ensure the child’s welfare is prioritised.
You may already have a Child Arrangements Order in place which specifies the time in which you spend with your child, including holidays and special occasions, such as Christmas. If not, we recommend that you carefully consider what arrangements you believe are best for your child/children and allow sufficient time to discuss those arrangements with the other parent.
Where possible, the child should be able to enjoy spending quality time with both parents during these periods.
Every family is different, and each parent will have other commitments to consider during the school holidays, such as employment schedules and annual leave. This is why it’s important for parents to work together to make arrangements that best suit the child/children.
Have you made formal arrangements with plenty of time before the holiday or special occasion?
Parents should discuss child contact arrangements for school holidays and special occasions as far in advance as possible.
Ideally, neither parent should book anything until an agreement has been reached.
Have you agreed upon indirect contact during the holiday or special occasion?
We recommend you also consider what indirect contact will take place during the time your child spends with the other parent. For example, telephone or video/FaceTime calls.
To avoid any unexpected interruptions, indirect contact with your child should be agreed before the holiday contact taking place, unless in the circumstances of an emergency.
Are you planning to take your child on holiday abroad?
If one parent wishes to take the child abroad at any time of the year, then they will need to seek the consent of the other parent with parental responsibility to do so, unless they have a specific Child Arrangements Order in place.
It’s always preferable to get this consent in writing from every person who holds parental responsibility for the child to avoid any difficulties.
If you have a Child Arrangements Order for your child to live with you, you can take them abroad for a period of up to 28 days without the permission of the other parent.
The parent taking the child on holiday should provide the other parent with details of where they are going, where they will be staying, and how they can be contacted in an emergency. It is also advisable to share the dates and times of travel.
If a Child Arrangements Order is not in place, and the parent does not provide their consent to take the child aboard, a parent can apply for permission to take the child abroad (a Specific Issue Order) or to stop a parent from taking a child abroad (a Prohibited Steps Order). There would have to be a very good reason for the Courts to stop a child from going on holiday abroad, as it’s usually in their best interests to go.
If you and the other parent can’t agree on holiday arrangements, our expert child law solicitors can support you in coming to an agreement in a collaborative way.
How we can help
With a special occasion or holiday coming up, resolving a child contact dispute with the other parent can be tricky. Children can also be caught in the middle of such disputes.
Our specialist child law solicitors can guide you in making the best contact arrangements for your child, so everyone can enjoy the holidays and special occasions throughout the year.