As the sunshine beams and the flowers blossom, the children come to an end of another year at school, which may be exciting for some parents but worrying for others as they are faced with the added task of agreeing and arranging contact over the summer holidays with their ex-partners.
Some separated parents find it difficult to discuss the topic of summer school holidays or even reach an agreement in respect of the arrangements over the summer holidays. Others find themselves in a position where one parent ‘dominates’ when contact can and cannot take place over the school holidays, which is often when it suits them.
It is however important for holiday contact to be arranged in accordance with the 3 P’s, namely; –
- Planned; Both parents should ensure that discussions in respect of contact arrangements take place as early as possible, to give both the opportunity to book holidays or days out etc. This will also give everyone the added benefit of knowing what they are doing over the six week period, which is essential for working parents. If one parent does decide to take the child(ren) on holiday, then it is important that they provide the other with details of the holiday (flight times, location etc.) and to ensure that the child(ren) have some sort of contact via telephone, FaceTime, Skype or WhatsApp etc. with the other parent. The use of a diary / calendar to establish a ‘pattern for contact’ may go a long way, in such circumstances!
- Practical; In this almost perfect world, plans being changed at the very last minute for one reason or another is not unheard of. Both parents should therefore be flexible and adaptable in their approach when it comes to dealing with any ‘hiccups’ in the contact plan – remember the contact plan is set in the calendar and not in stone!
- Purposeful; As the contact sessions over the summer school holidays may occur more frequently and for longer periods than the usual weekend contact, a parent may decide to ‘work from home’ whilst the children are in their care, leave the children with his / her parents, or even spend the contact session with new partners.
It is however important for both parents to ensure that contact remains focused, meaningful and in the best interests of the children. The time with the child(ren) should therefore be spent focusing on establishing or maintaining a long-lasting and loving relationship with the child(ren) as opposed to focusing on matters that do not concern the child(ren).
Whilst it is important to try to reach an agreement with one another with respect to the contact arrangements over the holidays, if you are unable to do so then there are other options available to you without the need to resort to issuing Court proceedings under the Children Act 1989.
Please feel free to contact our experienced and dedicated Solicitors in our Family Law Department on 01702 443 480 who will be happy to discuss the alternative avenues that are available to you or address any queries you may have when it comes to arranging contact, not only during the summer school holidays, but any time of the year.