With the school summer holidays starting this week in England, one thing that is on everybody’s mind is the long awaited summer break. Whether you are spending it at home or away, the countdown has likely already begun. However, for families with separated parents, the upcoming holiday may prove to be fraught with tensions regarding contact arrangements for the children. How long will the children spend with each parent? When will this be? Who will pick the children up and drop them off? Will the children be taken on holiday abroad or in the UK? These are just a few of the decisions that many parents will be faced with throughout the summer holidays.
In an ideal world, these issues would be easily agreed between parents, but unfortunately, child contact arrangements can often become contentious. The principal consideration should always be the best interests of the children involved and, if arrangements can be made by agreement, then both parents and children alike will have a more enjoyable and relaxing summer break.
There are various options available in situations where agreements regarding arrangements for the children are not forthcoming:
- It often helps if parents are able to find an effective method of communication through which child arrangements can be organised, such as via email or text message, where there is less opportunity for exchanges to become heated.
- Mediation is a great resource to enable parents to voice concerns in a neutral setting and where assistance is provided to facilitate the parents to reach an amicable agreement. The Courts actively encourage the use of mediation in such situations.
- Negotiations can also be undertaken through solicitors’ correspondence, which often assists parents in viewing their dispute with objectivity, thus enabling them to reach a compromise which is agreeable to them both.
- A last resort is to apply to the Court for a Child Arrangements Order, where the Court will ultimately decide what the child contact arrangements will be in the absence of an agreement between the parents.
Regardless of how child arrangements are reached, a key factor for ensuring the long term success of the proposed arrangements is to document them in writing. The more detail that can be included (e.g. dates, times and location), the better. Planning ahead in this way ensures transparency and provides both parents and children with the certainty they need to enable them to look to the summer holidays with excitement, rather than with trepidation.
Taylor Walton’s experienced Family Lawyers can provide specialist advice concerning all elements of child arrangements, whether this be summer holiday contact arrangements, the preparation of a Parenting Plan or otherwise.
If you require advice and assistance regarding child arrangements please contact; Amelia Scippo, Solicitor (firstname.lastname@example.org), or Will Mercer, Partner (email@example.com) or by phone on 01727 845245.