If you want to take your children away – either in the UK or abroad, early planning will help. Not only might you get one of the many free child places that travel companies offer to early bookers, but it will mean less discord as everyone knows what is happening and what plans need to be put in place. Do try to discuss your plans with your ex if you can, so that you don’t book the same weeks – or the same place! and you both agree what the children will be doing during the holiday.
You do need to ensure that you have the right to take your children out of the country. Unless you have a child arrangements order stating that the child should live with you, and you are going away for less than 28 days, you could be committing a criminal offence in England if you take your child out of the country without the other parent’s, or the court’s, permission. If there is no order in place, you’ll need permission from all those who have parental responsibility. It’s also a good idea to have a letter with you showing the permission – especially if you have a different surname to your child.
If your relationship with your ex, or whoever has parental responsibility, is amicable, getting their permission shouldn’t be difficult. However, if your breakup was acrimonious, it may be more difficult. For instance, they might not agree, or you might not even be able to get hold of them. In this case, you may need to get a court order, known as a specific issue order.
Ensuring that your children are cared for at all times will be a priority for you. Schoolchildren in the UK have around 13 weeks of holiday a year and planning care for this amount of time can be challenging, especially for working single parents. Early planning makes a lot of sense.
If your relationship with the other parent is strong enough, it makes sense to have an agreement in place that stipulates who is responsible for what, including which weeks are your responsibility and who will pay for any outside care. This might designate set weeks on which you each care for your child or there could be flexibility depending on what works best according to your circumstances.
Whatever you do agree, try to be flexible in your arrangements so that you can accommodate ad hoc issues, such as children’s parties or the surprise arrival of grandparents with the other parent when the children are in your care. Your children won’t thank you for denying their attendance at these events just because ‘it’s your turn to have them’.
Also, try to agree ground rules for your children, no matter which parent they are with. After all, children are children and will always try to get away with ‘well mum lets me!’ or ‘dad said I can have it!’.
Bradie Pell, partner and head of Graysons’ family department says:
“If you can come to an agreement on child care and holidays without a solicitor’s help, it will be beneficial to all. However, sometimes, even with your best efforts, you might not be able to agree your childcare arrangements and you might need help. Our family lawyers have vast experience in assisting parents with as little stress as possible. Contact us as soon as possible so that we can ensure we get the help you need, as, if you need a court order, that can take time to obtain.”
Author: Bradie Pell, partner and head of Graysons’ family team.