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Summer holidays - forward plan now to avoid issues later

As a parent the summer holidays can be a chance to spend quality time with the children ahead of the new school term. Often it’s the time most families plan their annual trips away. 

This process can become difficult for separating couples as the amount of time available is halved. Parents should aim to be reaching those agreements as early as possible to ensure that those holidays can take place. 

Any agreement regarding holidays does not necessary need to be in the form of a court order but should be in writing . To leave the country, the parent taking the child, in the absence of any court order being in place needs everyone’s permission with parental responsibility . If that permission is not given, then the parent leaving may find themselves in breach of the Child Abduction Act. Sometimes a solicitor lead negotiation on this point can be helpful. To avoid this issue every year some parents may wish to enter into parenting agreements to agree how children will be cared for both during term time and the holidays. Further you can even ask for the same to be made into an order. 

Where agreement cannot be reached, if suitable, parents should consider discussing the matter at mediation, a process involving an independent solicitor who will assist parties to hopefully reach agreement. Those agreements can remain flexible or can be made into an order.

The final step if all else fails is to apply to the Court for an order. To apply for permission to take a child on holiday, the parent would need to apply for a Specific issue order from the court. The problem is time. The Courts are extremely busy and to get a matter into court the same can take some time. The earlier an application can be made the greater chance the court will be able to accommodate matters. An order for a holiday during the summer, unless it impacts negatively on the relationship with the other parent, is rarely going to be refused. However, if this is likely to become a bigger issue then an application for a live / with spends time order may be needed instead to look at the longer term holiday arrangements. 

At HCB we are able to offer advice on all areas of family law.