Excitement levels are mounting in school classrooms the length and breadth of the country in the countdown to pupils breaking up for the summer holidays.
Lasting around six weeks, the summer break is the longest in the school calendar. It also brings added challenges for separated and divorced parents – many of whom work full time and do not have extensive support networks.
Children will understandably want to spend as much time as possible with both parents along with their wider family and friends.
Here are some steps parents can take to ensure stability in a shared commitment.
Try to set aside your differences to always put your children’s interests first. Planning in advance will avoid stress and confusion about arrangements for childcare, days out, and holidays at home and abroad.
Involve Children in Plans
Children and young people need certainty and security. Involve them as much as possible – and as far in advance as possible – in decision making to avoid any surprises. This helps them to adjust to new arrangements. Remember though that the decisions are yours. Whilst children need to feel heard, they do not want the responsibility for deciding the arrangements, especially where their parents may be in conflict.
Call on the Wider Family
Planning for a six-week break can be challenging. Call on your support network (if you have one) to help with shared responsibilities. This is also a positive opportunity for children to catch up with grandparents, step siblings and wider family members to re-establish existing bonds or forge new ones.
Taking Children Abroad
There are only two circumstances in which your ex can take your children abroad for up to a month without your permission. The first is if they have a Child Arrangements Order that verifies that a child “lives with” them, or if they secure a Court Order – called a Specific Issue Order – giving consent.
A Specific Issue Order is applied for if your ex does not have a Child Arrangements Order and thinks you are unreasonable in refusing permission. In these circumstances, the Court is asked to consider the facts of each case and decide whether the child should be allowed to travel. We always recommend taking expert advice from experienced family lawyers.
In our experience, a spirit of compromise, co-operation, and flexibility among parents will go a long way to help children make magical memories that they can treasure in later life.
ABOUT KATE BANERJEE
A widely recognised leader in Children Law, Kate heads Jones Myers nationally and internationally renowned Children’s Department. She is highly experienced in cases which include contact and residence disputes and child protection law.
Kate also has extensive expertise in international child abduction cases and is a Member of the International Child Abduction and Custody Unit. She is also a Member of the Child Care Panel representing parents, guardians, Local Authorities, and children. Jones Meyers