We are fast approaching the end of the school year and between end of June and middle of August parents will be planning to take their children on a long-awaited summer holiday. This can be an exciting time for the whole family, but for parents who have separated, making arrangements for holidays can often be a source of contention.
Indeed, for a family lawyer it is not uncommon to receive a number of enquiries from unhappy parents who are unable to reach an agreement with their ex partner or spouse to spend an extended period of holiday contact with their children over the summer. Quite often, the parent with care can refuse to allow the non-resident parent to travel on a holiday break with the children whether it be in the UK or elsewhere.
In some cases, a court action can be raised by a parent who wishes to obtain a Court Order for contact with their children over the summer holidays. It is usually preferable for the parties to attempt to negotiate this matter between their solicitors in the first instance and if this is not possible to attend mediation, however if this is not possible, a court action may be necessary. In considering whether or not to grant such an order, the court will have consideration as to what is in the best interests of the children, but courts will be more times than not supportive in general of non-resident parents wanting to spend extended time with their children over the school summer holidays.
Most people will, however, wish to avoid court action and so the following tips may be useful for separated parents to consider when planning a summer holiday with their children:
- Ensure you plan well in advance and give sufficient notice to the other parents about your intended trip. The Children (Scotland) Act 1995 provides that no person can remove a child habitually resident in Scotland from the United Kingdom without the consent of both parents who have parental responsibilities and rights. The further in advance that you plan, the earlier you can establish if consent is going to be provided and the less risk there is of disappointment if the trip requires to be curtailed as a result of lack of consent.
- The other parent will most likely wish full details of the holiday plans including where you are going, when you are going and full details of any accommodation. Ensure you have all those details readily available.
- Consider the position in relation to what documents you need to travel. One parent is usually the "keeper of the passport" so make sure that you consider the best way to exchange the documentation to ensure no difficulties at the airport.
- If agreement can be reached between you, consider having that agreement recorded within a separation agreement which can also make provision that parties will agree to future holidays for a set period of time without the need for written consent.
- Finally, at all times consider the best interests of your children as the paramount consideration. In most cases, it is in the best interests of children to enjoy holiday time with both separated parents. Whilst from a parents' point of view they may feel nervous about the holiday, or feel unfairness that a holiday abroad cannot be agreed, ensure that at all times you consider what the best option would be for your child/children. If possible, try and communicate with your ex partner or spouse in a sensible manner in order to try and find an approach that works for both of you and most importantly your children.
Get in touch
If you are experiencing difficulties reaching an agreement with your ex partner/spouse in relation to holidays with your children, you should consider speaking with an experienced family solicitor.
If you wish any advice about the issues arising from this blog, please do not hesitate to get in touch.